Scarlett Johansson Signs On to Star in DreamWorks’ ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Scarlett Johansson

Following the success of “Lucy,” Scarlett Johansson looks ready to take on another action pic, this one coming from the world of Japanese anime.

Johansson is set to star in DreamWorks’ adaptation of the popular anime pic “Ghost in the Shell.” Deadline Hollywood had reported that the actress had the offer to star but at the time she was still undecided about taking the role. Sources now say she has agreed to star in the pic.

The story follows the exploits of a member of a covert ops unit of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission that specializes in fighting technology-related crime.

Rupert Sanders is on board to direct. Avi Arad and Steven Paul are producing the film from a script by Bill Wheeler. Mark Sourian is exec producing.

Insiders also tell Variety that Paramount has the option to come on as co-producer and financier and that decision is expected in the coming weeks.

DreamWorks principal Steven Spielberg is a huge fan of the original and has long wanted to get this film off the ground. A commitment from a star like Johansson should help in getting the pic greenlit for production.

Besides Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lawrence, Johansson is becoming one of the few actresses in town with the clout to get a project greenlit on her name alone.

“Lucy” made $394 million worldwide and Johansson can be seen next in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” bowing in May. Johansson has also done a nice job of balancing action-heavy tentpoles with serious dramas and comedies.

She received rave reviews for Spike Jonze’s “Her” and is a part of the ensemble of the Coen brothers’ next pic “Hail, Caesar!” She is repped by CAA and LBI Entertainment.

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  1. 3dlat says:

    Hah, so when Idris Elba is casted as Roland in “The Dark Tower” ecranisation, a character that is developed after Clint Eastwood by Stephen King, everyone is like ” Good for him” and “OMG so progressive!” and when this happens people are like “Stay true to the origins hurr durr” Sure

  2. norma says:

    Right Leila, stick to the story. The story of an Asian Major in a special operations unit!

  3. Montda says:

    Sick to death of this “white washing” crap…it’s called ACTING … I say bravo to Scarlett. Acting and theatrics is about playing characters you’re not in real life. This isn’t politics! This is movie making! Let’s do it!

  4. Myrddin R Emrys says:

    I’m excited to see the energy and devotion that Scarlett brings to her roles. I think we’re all going to be very happy with her as Motoko in this …will it ever be made.. live action version of Ghost in the Shell.! See you at the Movies.!

    • Jonas Jhonson says:

      I would rather see the Swedish actress from “Prometheus” Noomi Rapace as Motoko Kusanagi instead. Her face expression looks very similar with the original character and she’s a real brunette. But the producers are the ones that decide how the movie is made not the fans. Or we would have a movie like the anime.

    • Myrddin says:

      adding.. I think an Asian actress would be fine for Motoko except, even though GitS is set in Japan, to me Motoko, Batou, Togusa & even Ishikawa did not look to be Asian (externally) in the GitS:SAC or 2nd Gig etc. Could it be that fans of CountryX see those characters as being more like people where they live.?

      • Jonas Jhonson says:

        Forget where it was set. This is a western adaptation, so everything is supposed to look western, for the western audiences to be able to enjoy. The Japanese are not the ones making this adaptation so stop comparing. If you prefer the Asian style get back to the anime.

  5. Francesco says:

    The main complain is about consistency, since GITS is originally set in Japan, with Japanese characters; so, unless the movie is a comedy and the factory decided that it would be “fun” for her face to look like “Starlet” Johansson, the look should be faithful to the original. Plus: “Motoko Kusanagi’s body was chosen by Shirow to be a mass production model so she would not be conspicuous. Her electrical and mechanical system within is special and features parts unavailable on the civilian market. Shirow intentionally chose this appearance so Motoko would not be harvested for those parts.” (source Wikipedia)
    Imagine if she had a western body in Japan, she wouldn’t blend in, and in any under cover operation she would be suspicious and easily recognizable, therefore in constant danger.
    If they knew what they were doing, they would have done it right. The cast is plain wrong in the first place, period

    • Ghost in the Shell Publisher seems to disagree with you.


    • Jimmy says:

      You obviously don’t know how hollywood works. They don’t want the movie to flop so they got an A list actor to get more people interested. Can you think of a japanese female A list actor? Didn’t think so. She could be played by a black woman and it still wouldn’t ruin the story. She is a cyborg who choose the way she looked. This is also for the Western audience being made from a Western company, I bet if japan made a movie off of a western movie/book whatever, they’d have japaense actors and you know what? No one would care.

  6. Thalmah says:

    Hah, so when Idris Elba is casted as Roland in “The Dark Tower” ecranisation, a character that is developed after Clint Eastwood by Stephen King, everyone is like ” Good for him” and “OMG so progressive!” and when this happens people are like “Stay true to the origins hurr durr” Sure

  7. KateB says:

    I am absolutely mystified at all the racial outrage over this.

    1. Why does everyone keep saying that Kusanagi is depicted as Japanese in the original – she doesn’t look Japanese. The only thing about her that could be seen as specifically Asian-esque is her hair color. Has anyone noticed that she has blue eyes?

    2. She’s a cyborg. The other cyborg that they find of a similar make and model looks exactly like her but is blonde and blue eyed – she is disturbed by the similarity. Will they insist that one should be Asian, too?

    3. Her partner Batou in the original is white and blonde – and he is in Japan, in a Japanese anime, too. Why is nobody grousing about his role being cast by an Asian guy?

    3. It is a film being produced in the western world. The actors in the Asian versus western versions of “The Grudge” were also different – if Japan makes a live action of it then they will cast accordingly, I’m sure.

    4. I am very curious whether the actual illustrators of the original would be as offended as the outrage-mongers by this casting, considering they chose Caucasian features when depicting her.

    5. Despite the original being set in Japan, the storyline is not in any way culturally specific to Japan. It is a future dystopian metropolitan area – could be New York, LA.. The storyline is in no way dependent upon specific location or the physical appearances of the characters. Although, if it were, blue eyed Scarlett with her Caucasian features looks more like Major Kusanagi than Lucy Liu.

  8. Kyle says:

    Sick to death of this “white washing” crap…it’s called ACTING … I say bravo to Scarlett. Acting and theatrics is about playing characters you’re not in real life. This isn’t politics! This is movie making! Let’s do it!

  9. pcsx says:

    It really hurts when they take such celebrated creations from Asian culture and trivialize them, without any intent to do them justice. It hurts that Hollywood can take something I’m so proud of, that I grew up on, and tell me it needs to be changed because my ethnicity isn’t good enough to be visible, even in its own stories.

  10. Darwin C Simmons says:

    It’s nice to see her in ANOTHER lead role. She will be as much a household name as Mr. Clean. People need and want new faces and acting styles, not ones that can play the same role over and over. So, for Ghost in the Shell, she got the part by name alone. Yes, she can act. Yes, she will be eye candy for the masses. If all you ever ate was the same thing day after day, movie after movie, you would want change. Give us something new and original.

  11. Rebecca says:

    I really love Scarlett Johansson as an actor, but this role should have been offered to Rinko Kikuchi. She’s a great actor who could perform the action and emotional depth needed for the role. For Scarlett Johansson I bet they will most likely change the character’s name. As a huge fan of the Ghost in the Shell, I’ll probably watch the movie but it will most likely be disappointing. Hollywood productions are superficial and won’t actually care about whitewashing until enough people make a firm stance against it. For now their whitewashing is still making them money so they’ll keep doing it.

  12. RGLeverett says:

    More whitewashing by Hollywood

  13. Bizzy says:

    I get the argument and wouldn’t it be great to cast Asian actors. No doubt they could find a supremely talented cast in Japan. However, when studios and investors pour millions into a movie budget, they need as much of a guarantee on their investment as possible. Scarlett sells more tickets globally than a less popular Asian counterpart. It’s just business.

  14. william says:

    Politics and banter aside, there’s no doubt that Scarlett Johansson will do a great job, but the main character here is supposed to be Japanese. It’d be like making a movie with Wonder Woman and casting a Japanese actress…just sorta weird.

  15. Nerro says:

    Hollywood doesn’t have the balls to make this movie. What they are making is not Ghost in the Shell and casting Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi proves this.

  16. Misty says:

    Rila Fukushima, Karen Fukuhara, and Rinko Kikuchi are the three actresses that come to mind for the part of Motoko Kusanagi if this is indeed the part Scarlett got. I have nothing against Scarlett but I’m getting tired of Hollywood giving every tough female role to Scarlett Johansson. I’m also getting very tired of Hollywood changing the ethnicity of certain characters to fit the role for Scarlett Johansson. If someone in Hollywood ever does a biography of Oprah Winfrey, I know they are going to get Scarlett Johansson to play the part of Oprah.

  17. Antoinne says:

    Black Widow yes, Motoko no she not Asian Stop messing up a great Anime

  18. Antoinne says:

    there going to screw it up and Gits fans will be mad

  19. Leila says:

    I just hope they don’t screw it all up.

  20. Emily says:

    While it is a good marketing ploy using a famous actress, Johansson has been associated with several strong female characters and eventually, the consumer expects the predictability of the acting. A less familiar and asian choice will match up to the story in distinctively cultural instances of GITS, as seen in Stand Alone Complex.

  21. Gillian says:

    I love ghost in the shell and I’m so excited that Scarlett might be in it…she’s very talented at anything she does. Maybe other women might LOOK better for the part in terms of the character’s race and traits, but I am thrilled that a very capable actress took it with enough clout to actually allow this to actually become a Hollywood movie

  22. christ says:

    omg TERRIBLE casting choice! CLEARLY Cobie Smulders should play the Major – she LOOKS like the Major FFS!

  23. PublicEnemyNo5 says:

    I always new Hollywood and the scum who ran it were greedy and racist. Thankfully, this movie won’t actually be made with Johanson in the lead role, not with all the bad publicity this is getting.

  24. Dora says:

    The hell? The main character is Asian for gods sake! Major fail for Universal and for Johansson. She’s already Black Widow, she doesn’t need another action franchise, especially one that should go to an Asian actress.

    • PublicEnemyNo5 says:

      Yeah, she’s a greedy piece of, I’ll stop right there. I’m confident this movie won’t be made though, so try not to worry.

  25. Heath says:

    kate beckensale should play the role. fits the description way better.

  26. En Sabah Nur says:

    She got the job purely for marketing reasons, dreamworks and spielburg only go for sure money makers. I’ll wait and see it will probs not be great but maybe it will not be to bad.

  27. mishima8 says:

    Everyone is forgetting the main reason this is a good thing. There are many scenes in the movies and series where the Major gets totally naked. This is a very good thing.

    • PublicEnemyNo5 says:

      No, this is not a good thing, it’s a very bad thing. Most people don’t wanna see ScarJo in this movie at all. I’m 1 of them. The actress has to be East Asian.

      • Darwin C Simmons says:

        Right Leila, stick to the story. The story of an Asian Major in a special operations unit!

      • chicapees says:

        Leila, that’s exactly why you’re a whiney, self-centered feminist. To you, the word “underrepresented” only applies to females and African Americans at the Oscars. Why don’t YOU get off your feminist high horse and stop undermining others’ opinions, especially when it’s for the sake of authenticity in art and not some invidious social justice campaign.

      • Misty says:

        I’m impressed with you wanting an East Asian actress. Get back on that high horse! Take several steps forward for race for this. Enough of Hollywood ignoring great East Asian actresses.

      • Leila says:

        Get off your east asian high horse, no one’s impressed. Take a step back from race, for fuck’s sake and just pray they don’t pull any female character archetypes like arbitrary romance or needing to be protected or some bullshit.

        Protect the story first. I could give a fuck if it’s ScarJo or Lucy Lui.

  28. By the success of her last movie “LUCY” it’s not a surprise that she is a perfect for the role of Major Motoko Kusanagi. I am also huge fan. From searching in her latest movies, I come up to this article that makes me think of what’s come up to this huge adaptation.

  29. FuriousGreg says:

    I’m upset that the Japanese made a film with a Japanese main character, why do all their films have Japanese actors and not one of every ethnicity? /sarcasm
    The studio bought the rights to make a version of this story for another market that is primarily of European decent. If people want or are interested in seeing the original it is readily available. When the demographic changes in this market so will the choice of actors.

    • PublicEnemyNo5 says:

      Oh just shut up. That is some idiotic reasoning and hollow sarcasm you just provided us. Nobody gives a damn about the main audience being European, the lead actress still has to be East Asian. The U.S. is not a “white”/European country, it’s multicultural, and it’s arts and entertainment should reflect that.

    • aNNIE says:

      Don’t be silly. Ghost in the Shell was never a good story or movie to begin with — BUT, changing things because the market is different is just plain dumb. Ghost in the Shell is set in a future era where the main hero’s name is Makoto Kusanagi. If the hero isn’t Makoto Kusanagi, then it is NOT Ghost in the Shell. Or are you saying that we should change other classics like say “Robin Hood”, maybe make it a black woman? Or something equally silly.

      Sure we can go watch the original movie, but the point here is that making a movie that isn’t really Ghost in The shell is redundant and not needed. Why call it Ghost in the Shell when it isn’t? We already have horror examples of this in movies like “Resident Evil” where the mvoies have NOTING to do with the games. People’s argument then is — hey you don’t have to watch the movies… BUT, as we have seen the damn movies have started influencing the actual games and making them crappy. A shitty Western movie will no doubt influence the original movie and series. Reboots are not needed! Then again, the idiots are making an “all female” cast reboot for Ghost busters. So I’m not really surprised.

      • stylinred says:

        “GITS was never a good story or movie” that right there just shows you either have no knowledge/experience of the film or you’re a troll or the cartoon was just too intellectual for you and went over your head

  30. heavyredeyes says:

    Scarlett Johansson? Worst possible choice for the character Motoko “Major” Kusanagi. The success of Lucy wasn’t because of Scarlett’s performance in my opinion but the idea which is nothing new to anime films like Akira, anyone could of played that part and have a better performance. Motoko doesn’t have to be played by an asian actress since it’s a far distant future where everyone will eventually be mixed in every continent, we can’t forget that World War 4 has passed with Imperial America and Japan becoming the victors of the war. If you go back to the original film neither the Major nor Batou look japanese, that being said I can only think of one good actress that can pull it off in my opinion with the look and acting skills which is Olivia Wilde and the other choices that look the part but I’m not sure if they’ll perform well would be Kristin Kreuk (TV success), Milla Jovovich (veteran in scfi/action films), Olivia Munn (new upcoming). I hope they recast and make this a serious scfi film, Scarlett Johansson’s bad acting will ruin this film without a doubt. Olivia Wilde emotionless looking straight at you as she did in Tron Legacy without blinking would be perfect.

  31. Ab3nd says:

    Ok, first off Motoko is a cyborg, so technically she doesn’t need to have to be asian feautures. I fact, while lots of characters in the saga were clearly asian, Motoko allways remained animeish
    That being said, I think SJ doesn’t fit the least with the character. My personal favorite for the rol would be Romijn Stamos, I think she would make a great Major, but any of the asian actresses mentioned below could do it a hundred times better.

    • PublicEnemyNo5 says:

      No, no and a thousand times no. Rebecca Romijn is a terrible choice. The lead actress has to be East Asian. That definitely matters.

  32. People will find anything to cry rascism ove rnow wont they…Yeah plenty of asian actresses so WHY DIDNT ANY OF THEM GO FOR THE PART…just saying….no one forced them to stay at home when they were Castng parts

    • PublicEnemyNo5 says:

      They didn’t do casting calls, stupid, they just chose her out of the blue. And yes it is racist, so go check your privilege.

  33. Damien Tobin says:

    Despicable but utterly unsurprising. “Market research” has told the suits in charge that white leads sell movies, and they don’t mind how racist and absurd this nonsense has gotten.

  34. america is exhausting tbh says:

    this is…… awful and exhausting, but honestly, we all already knew it was gonna be completely garbage, not worth anyone’s time. hardcore fans aren’t going to see this travesty in theaters because… well, it’s going to be terrible, and nobody wants to see something terrible, especially not when you’ll be able to see it for free(without giving any money to the creators of the garbage) within the month with pirating n shit. and i doubt it’ll get a lot of traffic from casual, everyday movie viewers who haven’t heard of anime, since GITS is kind of… different and dense compared with american films(or at least the ones i’ve seen lately). it’s terrible and awful and nauseating and offensive and honestly it’s BORING to see them bang their heads against a brick wall over and over, but eventually they’ll fail enough times that nobody will ever be willing to give them the money to try, and then we’ll never suffer through an american trying to make a live action anime remake. god willing, anyway. heres hoping that everyone behind the making of movies like this either gives up, gets the money pulled out from under them, or inexplicably kicks the bucket.

  35. Eric Murphy says:

    So, they’re casting Scarlett Johansson, a white woman, in the role of Motoko Kusanagi, a Japanese character, from a Japanese manga and anime that takes place in Japan and was made in Japan and is entirely Japanese?
    Who looked at this and decided “Yep, we need a white lady” because whoever that was is a moron. There are plenty East-Asian actresses that could’ve played her. Maggie Q, Kelly Hu, Ming-Na Wen, Lucy Liu, Rinko Kikuchi, etc.
    I hope this film flops.

  36. Worst thing that ever happened to me

  37. SoheiQi says:

    Noooooo!!! Mrs Johansson should not be playing the Major in Ghost in the Shell. She is just not suited for the role. Pick another actress PLEASE!!!

  38. Siwan says:

    This is going to suck <_<

  39. cat says:

    Why did they cast a white woman to play a Japanese character, who lives in Japan, and has a Japanese name? Hollywood is sf racist jfc.

  40. Crow says:

    All I can honestly say about this subject is don’t screw up the Ghost in the shell world or near moderate damage will be done to any actors,director,and producers involved.There are still fans with great loyalty to Masamune shirows dream

    • PublicEnemyNo5 says:

      Even attempting to cast a non-East Asian lead is already ruining the film that might not even make it to production.

    • Crow says:

      Yes it is abundantly clear from the comments bellow.Damage of a moderate scale will come, if the world of Ghost in the shell gets warped and knowing Hollywood it will be warped

  41. Matt N says:

    Yet another case of Hollywood whitewashing. I don’t care if she’s a good actress, cast Asian characters with Asian actresses. smh

  42. stylinred says:

    Also why is a slave worker representative getting so much love in Hollywood ever since she quit being a humanitarian ambassador for Oxfam and taken on the role of slave trade promoter for an israeli company?
    Mel Gibson get’s blacklisted from society for a drunken rant against jews, while Scarlet Johansson keeps getting major roles for her support of Jewish slave owners, Sodastream…what does that say about Hollywood?

  43. stylinred says:

    Johansson?! really?! didn’t she prove in Lucy that she can’t hold a movie on her own?! and to play in the lead role of GITS? omg Hollywood is insane! what horrendous, horrendous, casting!

  44. Josh Gardner says:

    I don’t see any problem with setting the story in America. In Akira the idiosyncratic dystopian Japan was a huge character, and it’s hard to imagine the story being set anywhere else. With Ghost in the Shell, though, the setting is essentially “Cyberpunk Dystopia.” Japan’s culture isn’t enmeshed with the overall story to nearly the degree that it was in Akira. The way I think of it, The original GitS has Japanese characters and is set in Japan because it was created by Japanese people, for a largely Japanese audience. Doesn’t it make sense that an American adaptation would likewise be set in America?

    Scarlett Johanssen is a talented actress, and she’s particularly good at playing eerily inhuman characters (Lucy, Under the Skin) and ruthless secret agents (her recurring role as the Black Widow in Marvel films.) It’s inspired casting, and I’m sure she’ll do an excellent job with the role.

    I get that people don’t like the idea of casting white actors for roles that were originally imagined with other races. We need more diversity in casting, and whitewashed films like Exodus and Avatar are as silly as they are offensive. But this is one movie where I think the decision makes perfect sense. There are few Asian actresses who are as talented at playing this type of character, and none who have any where the kind of star power that Scarlett Johannsen currently has.

    • annoyed says:

      Any popular asian actress comes to mind and has those exact characteristics you mentioned, GTFO

      Maggie Q
      Hettienne Park
      Doona Bae
      Kelly Hu
      Ming-Na Wen
      Michelle Yeoh

      All have variably well known actresses who all actually have some training in martial arts and have played the serious secret agent type. Fuck every thing about this casting decision and steven spielberg and scarlett johanssen and dreamworks.

      • Nathan says:

        Annoyed, putting another Asian actress that there not JAPANESE is a kind of racism too. This stereotype that all Asians are similar is a worst racism. I’m Asian and I don’t like when people thinks Asians are all the same and call someone Japanese when they’re Chinese or Korean, for example in my country. Or in some countries that Chinese people are more predominant and everyone thinks every Asian is Chinese.

        Well, you certainlly understood my point of view. Sorry for my English.

      • Anna AB says:

        I totally agree with you! I just wonder why did they even approve of a Hollywood version of GITS in the first place??? Anybody in their right mind would always have a flashback of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Dragonball with this project. This may only rake in the big bucks because of ScarJo, but to those GITS fans out there, would we really want to patronize this injustice?

  45. no just no says:

    This makes me barf almost as much as when they were talking about remaking Akira with Tetsuo being changed to “Travis.” I really like SJ, I do, but it doesn’t matter who they put in this movie, if it’s Americanized it will be bad. Most of the original fans of the show will probably hate it, and imo the story’s a bit too complex and intellectual for it to be a huge box-office hit. I don’t know how they would expect it to make very much money.

  46. jen says:

    when is hollywood going to stop throwing white people at every single role no matter what. Set in egypt? Lets have white actors. Native Americans? Omg we so need white actors for that. Asians? Do we have any white actors around for that? Could you maybe quit acting like 1959 hollywood for a second because it doesn’t look good on you and I’m skipping movies I would have otherwise seen because I feel like my racist great uncle made them.

  47. glaadbag says:

    How far does Hollywood have to fall to figure out that whitewashing movies is seen as a negative thing in the public eye? I mean sure, ScarJo CAN play the part but, I don’t think she SHOULD play the part.

    I (as a black male) feel that sometimes the industry is just plain lazy when it comes to casting and they don’t like taking risks. I know that somewhere out there, there is a phenomenal Asian American actress who is better suited for the role.

  48. Al says:

    not the best choice she doesnt have the complexity, seriousness and smartness portray by Motoko

  49. cassie says:

    ok but what about rinko kikuchi???

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