Mamoru Oshii, director of the 1995 animated film “Ghost In The Shell,” has no problem with its upcoming live-action remake slated to hit theaters on March 31.
He’s particularly comfortable with Scarlett Johansson’s casting as the Major, thinking of her as “the best possible choice.”
Apparently, his stand contrasts those who expressed their disappointment over the movie’s supposed whitewashing, but he examined the nature of the role, pointing to its mechanical identity.
“What issue could there possibly be with casting her? The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. 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. Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply.”
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He also cited other characters played by actors of different ethnicities in the past:
“In the movies, John Wayne can play Genghis Khan, and Omar Sharif, an Arab, can play Doctor Zhivago, a Slav. It’s all just cinematic conventions. If that’s not allowed, then Darth Vader probably shouldn’t speak English, either.”
Oshii argued that people opposing Johansson’s casting must be fueled by political motives. He believes “artistic expression must be free from politics.”
Johansson previously asserted that she “would never presume to play another race of a person,” adding that she would never want to feel like “playing a character that was offensive.”
Under Oshii’s direction, the original “Ghost In The Shell” film was written by Kazunori Itō and released in Japan as “Mobile Armored Riot Police: Ghost In The Shell.” Like the upcoming movie, it was also based on Masamune Shirow’s manga of the same title.