Scarlett Johansson Defends Her ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Role, Says it Isn’t Whitewashing (Video)

Actress says her android character is “identity-less”

scarlett johansson ghost in the shell

Scarlett Johansson defended her casting as the cybernetic hero Motoko Kusanagi in the live-action remake of “Ghost in the Shell” in an interview on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.

Johansson has been faced with months worth of criticism for taking the starring role in the remake of the classic anime franchise, which some see as another example of an Asian character being whitewashed to appeal to a larger audience.

But Johansson told “GMA” host Michael Strahan that the crime-fighting Kusanagi is an “identity-less” character because of her nature as a cyborg, which is where the series gets its title from.

“I think this character is living a very unique experience in that she has a human brain in an entirely machinate body,” Johansson said. “I would never attempt to play a person of a different race, obviously. Hopefully, any question that comes up of my casting will be answered by audiences when they see the film.”

A similar argument was previously made by Mamoru Oshii, the director of the original 1995 “Ghost in the Shell.” He shared ScarJo’s vision of the character, saying that Kusanagi doesn’t truly have an ethnicity as her body is only a shell and that her name and appearance aren’t what is essential to the character.

“What issue could there possibly be with casting her? The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one,” Oshii told IGN. “The name ‘Motoko Kusanagi’ and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her.”

“I believe having Scarlett play Motoko was the best possible casting for this movie. I can only sense a political motive from the people opposing it, and I believe artistic expression must be free from politics.”

“Ghost in the Shell” hits theaters this Friday. Watch Johansson’s GMA interview in the tweet below.