Scarlett Johansson – Ghost In The Shell


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Normally when a popular animated or comic book character is brought to life by an actor or actress for the big screen the internet goes into meltdown by fanboys outraged by the decision. Remember the recent outcry when Gal Gadot was announced to be playing Wonder Woman, or even the online petitions that started up when the original line-up of The Avengers was revealed.

Strangely when Scarlett Johansson was chosen to play Major in director Rupert Sanders real-life adaption of the 1995 anime Ghost In The Shell the naysayers online were strangely silent. Perhaps it was because of the fact that Johansson was already well known to sci-fi fans – after all she has been praised for her roles in films such as Lucy and of course her portrayal of Black Widow in the Avengers franchise. Or perhaps it was the revealing shots of Johansson in her skin-tight outfit that the role of Major demanded she wear that graced the Net very early on in the production process of Ghost In The Shell.

While many of the people who saw those pictures had little doubt that Johansson had the physical attributes to play Major she says the character was a lot more challenging than people would imagine. “The challenge for was really physical but then the emotional challenge of this character was even more difficult,” Johansson explains. “These questions come up that really haunt her – who am I, what is my purpose, if my body doesn’t belong to me then who do I belong to, does my mind belong somebody, do my experiences belong to somebody else? Plus she is experiencing betrayal and feelings of abandonment and all of the questioning. You know all of that is really hard to live with for the duration of filming.”

Anybody that has seen the original anime of Ghost In The Shell will know that Major’s story is a complex one and while the film is guaranteed to have some amazing action sequences the plot itself is very character driven. With her role in Lucy already behind her the notion of acting in a character-driven action film is something that is not lost on Johansson although she is quick to admit that it is also very rare in modern day. “I think it is just weird to have a character-driven story in this particular genre. To be able to be able to part of something like that is really… profound,” she says searching her mind for the right word to describe how she feels. “This film deals with all these questions – all these existential questions – these questions of identity and what it means to be human. And also as we strive to advance on experience what are we willing to sacrifice of the human experience. These are all pretty heavy questions and it’s nice to be able to explore them in this explosive universe that has been created here.”

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One of the things that the critics who have seen the film have marvelled at is in fact that universe that has been created for Ghost In The Shell and that is certainly something that Johansson found herself impressed with as well. “The production team have done an amazing job of creating a world that has been inspired by the original work but also stands alone. The original artwork is something that Rupert has been thinking about since he was fourteen and that really inspired him. He has such an amazing visual vocabulary that it is all part of this larger conversation of this film. When I saw the final piece I was totally blown away.”

Johansson admits with a lot of the tight outfits she wears in Ghost In The Shell staying in shape was a big part of her life both before and during production on the film. “I was training so much and with the duration of training and with the workload etc I was actually in better shape at the end of the film then I was at the beginning,” she says laughing. “That is not normally the case, normally you find yourself deteriorating as the film goes on. But the workload was so intense that I had to live a very disciplined life and I actually liked that. I like the discipline of getting up every day and having the routine of going to the gym and that really helps me focus on my job.”

Ghost In The Shell is one Hollywood anime adaption that fans of the original series are certainly not going to be complaining about. It looks amazing and once again puts another notch in Johansson’s belt as she portrays another feminine hero that is a force to be reckoned with.

Ghost In The Shell is in cinemas now and is reviewed at


Written by Dave Griffiths


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