Scarlett Johansson clarifies remarks that she should be allowed to play "any person, or any tree, or any animal"

By Danielle Garrand

/ CBS News

David Sedaris on who gets to play whom on screen

Scarlett Johansson has faced a wave of criticism this week over a new interview in which she claimed, "I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal." The star, who has faced past casting controversies, is speaking out — explaining her comments were taken out of context.

"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," Johansson said. Her response concerns a July 11 interview published in As If magazine.

In it, the "Avengers: Endgame" actress explained she believed she should be permitted to play any role, "because that is my job and the requirements of my job." She added that "there are a lot of social lines being drawn now" and "a lot of political correctness is being reflected in art."

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The comments reminded some of her previous high-profile casting scandals. Last July, she dropped out of the film "Rub & Tug" amid ongoing backlash for her plans to play the lead role of a transgender man. Transgender actors and advocates immediately criticized the production for not casting a trans actor in the role.

She also faced outrage for her role in the live-action 2017 remake of anime classic "Ghost in the Shell." Critics condemned the filmmakers and the studio, Paramount, for casting Johansson in a traditionally Japanese role as the character Motoko Kusanagi. While promoting the film, Johansson made it clear that she thought the allegations of whitewashing were unfounded.

Many took to social media to share their frustration with her statements. "Pose" star Indya Moore, who identifies as transgender and non-binary, tweeted, "Why Compare trans people and poc to trees and animals…" Twitter user @niceonefransi posted an image of a tree and joked, "OMG I can't believe I just met Scarlett Johansson!! what an honor!!!"

OMG I can’t believe I just met Scarlett Johansson!! what an honor!!! pic.twitter.com/81Ryb2t9XF

— franzi (@niceonefransi) July 14, 2019

Johansson issued a statement Saturday amidst the wave of criticism, according to The Associated Press: "I personally feel that, in an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody and Art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness."

She also claimed the comments were edited in other publications for "clickbait."

First published on July 14, 2019 / 8:01 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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