When Scarlett Johansson was cast as The Major in director Rupert Sanders’ Ghost in the Shell live-action adaptation, a few people voiced their discontent online. I was not one of them. That’s because over the past decade, Johansson has shown again and again she can take on any kind of role and make the character look and feel real. And beyond being a great actor, Johansson has shown she can open a movie, which in this day and age is even more important than before. If you doubt what I’m saying, look at the box office of Lucy. The forty million dollar film did almost five hundred million at the world wide box office! That’s pretty incredible. Add to that, she’s absolutely helped Marvel succeed at the box office by playing a kick-ass Black Widow. Like I said, she’s both a great and reliable performer.
Which brings me to Ghost in the Shell.
While millions of fans around the world know the iconic series from the manga and previously released animated movies, I’d argue the majority of the planet has no idea what Ghost in the Shell is about or why so many fans love the world and the characters. Which is why you need someone like Scarlett Johansson playing the lead. Not only will she be great in the role, she will enable a movie like (hard core sci-fi) this to be seen around the world because of her name alone.
However, I need to take a step back. For those not familiar with the themes in Ghost in the Shell, it explores what it means to be human. When you can copy your consciousness to another body, when do you stop being human? Is it your body or mind or both that makes you who you are? In addition, in the world of Ghost in the Shell, hackers can plant memories in your head and the recipient can’t tell what’s real or fake. The world of Ghost in the Shell tries to deal with real issues in a technologically advanced world.
In the film, we’ll follow Johansson as The Major, a special ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid who leads the elite task force Section 9. Devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, Section 9 is faced with an enemy whose singular goal is to wipe out advancements in cyber technology. Loaded with an all-star international cast featuring Pilou Asbæk, Michael Pitt, Juliette Binoche, Kaori Momoi, Rila Fukushima, Chin Han, Danusia Samal, Lasarus Ratuere, Yutaka Izumihara, and Tuwanda Manyimo, the film should be something extremely cool when it opens in theaters March 31, 2017.
While the movie was filming in New Zealand earlier this year, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters. Even though Johansson was extremely busy filming a key scene in the movie, during a break she sat down with us for an interview. She talked about why she wanted to play the role, the challenges of playing someone in the midst of an identity crisis, how people will be surprised at the gritty kind of realness of the world, and so much more.