Scarlett Johansson Admits She ‘Didn’t Know’ ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Before Her Casting
When it was first announced that Scarlett Johansson was cast as The Major (i.e. Major Motoko) in the forthcoming live action film adaptation of Japan's Ghost in the Shell anime, fans instantly got up in arms, many (including this writer) frustrated with the blatant whitewashing of the role.
Despite the backlash and calls for more onscreen diversity, director Rupert Sanders' (Snow White and the Huntsman) Ghost in the Shell is deep into production and slated for a March 31, 2017 theatrical release, which means Johansson's Major will likely serve as the initial introduction of the character to a new and unfamiliar segment of the Western audience for the first time.
Speaking to Collider, the actress opened up about taking on the iconic, beloved Japanese sci-fi role, as well as how she feels diehard fans of the original material will react to Sanders' interpretation of the Japanese pop culture staple.
When asked how familiar she was with the series when she was first approached by the filmmaker, Johansson admitted that she hadn't previously heard of the anime or manga.
"I didn’t know the material at all," she revealed, adding, "The first that I knew of it was just screening the anime in preparation of reading the script and stuff. And it was pretty heavy. I was like, whoa. There's a lot there."
The actress added that she was "scared" to dive in at first, considering how "iconic" the series is and how important it is to its many international fans.
"[It was] very daunting," she explained. "Also because it’s so iconic, I thought, ah! It seems like a lot. But I kind of wrapped my head around it because I sort of imagined, I tried to imagine the Major’s journey as her kind of life as she thinks she was, the life that she is, and the person that she was actually. Which is this kind of story that we’re telling..."
When asked if there is anything fans of the original anime may be surprised to see in Sanders' film adaptation, Johansson said, "I think when you have a character that’s so beloved, and certainly even with Black Widow, bringing that character to life was sort of daunting. Just because of course people have a lot of opinions about these characters that they love and grew up with and are inspired by and so forth, I try to kind of clean the slate and really follow my instincts with the character and hope that I give the character as much integrity as people expect..."
"One thing that will be very different probably is we’re not making the Frank Miller world where those graphic novels come to life," she added. "We have kind of the iconic iconography of the manga and stuff, but I think people will be surprised at the gritty kind of realness of this. For a person that doesn’t have a heart, it has a lot of heart, I think."
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