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Scarlett Johansson Clarifies Remarks About Playing 'a Tree'

She says interview was 'edited for click bait and is widely taken out of context'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2019 9:23 AM CDT
In a Tuesday, April 23, 2019 file photo, Scarlett Johansson, a member of the cast of "Avengers: End Game," appears at a hand and footprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre, in Los Angeles. bait.   (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Scarlett Johansson has received more press than most actors when it comes to the appropriateness of the roles she takes on: She was attacked two years ago for playing an Asian character in Ghost in the Shell, and last year dropped out of Rub & Tug, in which she was to play a transgender man. Now she's pushing back on how comments she made on the subject in an interview with As If magazine were presented. After the interview ran Thursday, this quote spread like wildfire: "You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job." (CBS News points to one of cheeky responses to it.) In a statement issued over the weekend, Variety reports Johansson said, "An interview that was recently published has been edited for click bait and is widely taken out of context."

She clarified her intention: "In an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody and Art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness. I recognize that in reality, there is a wide spread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cisgender actors and that not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to." At Slate, Matthew Dessem adds some context, noting the interview wasn't a profile but a conversation between the actress and the painter David Salle and featured photos of her with his work. The photographer says Salle instructed Johansson to "play with the idea of living within a tree" during the shoot, hence, perhaps, her quote. But Dessem thinks Johansson's further explanation that she was just answering Salle's question "seems a little misleading"; the article as presented shows that she "steers the conversation right into political correctness in casting," he writes. (Read more Scarlett Johansson stories.)

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