It wasn’t the biggest race-related controversy in film, but it was a major one: when it was announced that most of the actors in the live action adaptation of the anime Ghost in the Shell would be white, people weren’t happy. That anger reemerged this week when the first picture of Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi, reminding everyone of how stupid the casting decision was. And now, a day later, ScreenCrush broke the news that the producers of the film hired a visual effects studio to do tests in order to see if it would be possible to make the white actors in the film look Asian.
The report initially alleged that producers specifically attempted to transform Johansson’s image, but a later comment from the producers denies such an allegation, claiming instead that they only ordered — and abandoned — general tests not related specifically to Johansson.
A test was done related to a specific scene for a background actor which was ultimately discarded. Absolutely no visual effects tests were conducted on Scarlett’s character and we have no future plans to do so.
The team hired to run these tests was Lola VFX, the well-known company that made Brad Pitt old and then young in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. (Also Joy, The Big Short, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and many others.) Though the producers deny any blatant tests on Johansson’s character, ScreenCrush maintains the truth in the statement, but we might never know. All we can gather is that there’s a problem if the film’s producers want to make the film’s actors appear Asian and would rather do it with CGI than by casting an actual Asian actor.