Scarlett Johansson defended her lead role in "Ghost in the Shell" from whitewashing allegations that have haunted the Paramount Picture release since the adaptation of the popular Japanese manga was announced.
“I think this character is living a very unique experience in that she has a human brain in an entirely machinate body. She's essentially identity-less,” Johansson told Michael Strahan on "Good Morning America" Tuesday. “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.”
Johansson's casting bothered both fans because they consider her character -- Major Motoko Kusanagi -- an Asian role that could have gone to an Asian actress.
But Mamoru Oshii, the Japanese director of the 1995 anime “Ghost in the Shell" movie, disagrees. He argued to IGN that Johansson's character, which seems to have been shortened to just "Major," is literally a shell of a human, so it doesn't matter what race the actress is.
“What issue could there possibly be with casting her? The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one,” Oshii said. “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," Oshii added. "I can only sense a political motive from the people opposing it, and I believe artistic expression must be free from politics."
The action flick, co-produced by DreamWorks and Paramount, hits theaters on Friday. Watch Johansson's "GMA" interview below.