Paramount’s live-action remake of Mamoru Oshii’s seminal animated film Ghost in the Shell opens in theaters next month, and IGN had the opportunity to get the director’s thoughts on the upcoming adaption of his 1995 anime classic.
While the casting of Scarlett Johansson has proven to be a point of controversy among fans because she isn’t Asian, Oshii doesn’t see any issue with her assuming the role of the Major, and said he believes she was “the best possible” choice for the live-action adaptation.
“What issue could there possibly be with casting her?” Oshii told IGN by e-mail. “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.”
The director went on to point out how a number of actors in the past have played characters of different ethnic groups without issue. “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,” he explained. “If that’s not allowed, then Darth Vader probably shouldn’t speak English, either. I believe having Scarlett play Motoko was the best possible casting for this movie. I can only sense a political motive from the people opposing it, and I believe artistic expression must be free from politics.”
Oshii also doesn’t believe the live-action adaption needs to adhere strictly to the way everything was portrayed in his animated film. He said director Rupert Sanders should take some creative liberties. “If this is to be a remake of the anime, I don’t think it’s necessary to remain faithful to the way things were expressed in the anime. The director should exercise his directorial freedom as much as possible. If he doesn’t do so, there would be no point in remaking it,” he explained.
This is being discussed live on Episode 58 of Final Encounter Cast at Twitch.tv.