Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Ghost in the Shell’ reportedly tested effects to make actors look more Asian

Ghost in the Shell Paramount copy
Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in ‘Ghost in the Shell.’ Paramount

In the wake of the controversial choice to cast Scarlett Johansson as the lead of the Hollywood adaptation of the Japanese anime franchise “Ghost in the Shell,” ScreenCrush reports that producers of the film tested digital visual effects that would make actors look more Asian.

According to a source in the story, producers immediately rejected the idea after tests were completed, but the news is the latest example of Hollywood “whitewashing” — casting white actors in non-white roles — that has been getting a spotlight in recent years.

Last year, Emma Stone was cast as a half-Chinese/half-Hawaiian woman in “Aloha,” Rooney Mara was cast as a Native American in “Pan,” and most of the stars in “Gods of Egypt” were Caucasian.

In the famous 1995 anime film “Ghost in the Shell,” Motoko Kusanagi is a part-cyborg policewoman. Johansson is taking the role in the new movie coming out in 2017.

ScreenCrush reports that several sources say tests were done on Johansson herself to make her look more Asian. But Paramount in a statement to the site, while confirming a test, says it was only on a background actor.

“No visual effects tests were conducted on Scarlett’s character and we have no future plans to do so,” the studio said.

Ghost and the Shell Production I.G
Major Motoko Kusanagi in an animated version of ‘Ghost in the Shell.’ Production I.G

Regardless of the subject of the VFX tests, what’s more disturbing is that Asian actors are frequently not cast in these roles.

Following the report by ScreenCrush, screenwriter Max Landis took to YouTube to give his two cents on the issue.

“The only reason to be upset about Scarlett Johansson being in ‘Ghost in the Shell’ is if you don’t know how the movie industry works,” he said in the video, pointing out that “there are no A-list female Asian celebrities.”

“It’s infuriating,” Landis added. “There used to be, in the ’90s, diversity in our A-list actors. Jackie Chan and Jet Li were famous at the same time, they could both get movies made. We don’t have that guy any more, we don’t even have Lucy Liu any more.”

Landis argues the only reason “Ghost in the Shell” in its Hollywood form is being made is because a bankable star like Johansson is in the lead.

Paramount has not yet replied to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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