Studio Sparks Outrage After Cisgender Male Actors Dub Laverne Cox's 'Promising Young Woman' Role In Europe
The international distribution release of Promising Young Woman by Universal Pictures—starring Laverne Cox, Bo Burnham, and Carey Mulligan—has ground to a halt after intense backlash.
For the European versions of the movie, cisgender male voice actors were hired to dub Laverne Cox's character, completely misgendering Cox who has risen to stardom while being one of the few openly transgender women in Hollywood.
The Italian version called Una Donna Promettente was supposed to be released on May 13.. However, the release was paused after Universal Pictures Italy posted a clip of the film as a teaser.
The now restricted clip showed Cox in the role of Gail with the noticeably masculine voice of Roberto Pedicini dubbed over the original. Advocates and other celebrities in the LGBTQ community were outraged at the decision to so obviously misgender Cox.
Laverne Cox's Promising Young Woman Role Was Voiced by a Male Actor for Its Italian Release. Here's Why That's 'a S… https://t.co/2mgRii6vsI— The Root (@The Root)1620931328.0
Fellow trans entertainer Victoria Schisano told The Guardian:
"I think this dubbing choice was a straight-up act of violence. It's insulting. I'd feel bullied if I were [Cox]."
Others on social media felt the same.
@TheRoot This just goes to show cis people will look you in your eye knowing who and what you are and CHOOSE to call you out your name.— 🔞Jar Jar Kinks $6 OF 🔞 (@🔞Jar Jar Kinks $6 OF 🔞)1620934936.0
@IndieWire Shocking that apparently, Italy wasn't the only case where this happened, when they say that they began… https://t.co/S7wAMsIv3Z— Mika En (@Mika En)1620917003.0
It’s baffling that nobody wondered if having the cis man known as the go-to guy for dubbing Jim Carey, Woody Harrel… https://t.co/U8ORvzRft2— Jezebel (@Jezebel)1620946202.0
Unfortunately, the Italian version was not the only one chosen to use a man's voice for the award winning actress. It was revealed other versions, such as in Spain, also employed a cisgender male to dub the voice of Cox's character.
Universal Pictures released a statement apologizing for the choice and assuring the films will be re-dubbed before release.
The statement—published by multiple outlets including Hollywood Reporter and New York Daily News—read:
"We are deeply grateful to Laverne and the transgender community for opening our eyes to a bias that neither we nor many in our industry had recognized. While there was no malicious intent behind this mistake, we are working diligently to fix it."
"We have begun redubbing Ms. Cox's voice with female actors in our international territories and are pushing back release dates to ensure the correct version is available. We are sorry for the pain caused but are thankful that we can address the situation on this film and prevent similar mistakes from happening again on future projects."
Twitter users weren't quick to forgive however.
@BBCNews Can it seriously not be deemed a mistake "without malicious intent"? Must it be painted in a manner to see… https://t.co/iqkKj4HZBB— Cynthia (@Cynthia)1620917369.0
I was so excited for my italian friends to get to see promising young woman in theatres... until I listened to one… https://t.co/HgQGsuSb4n— stefanya taylor-joy (@stefanya taylor-joy)1620827127.0
@TheRoot @TransEthics Pleasingly, this is costing them money to re-dub. It’s so much cheaper to not be an arsehole in the first place.— Christine Burns MBE 🧜♀️🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈📚⧖ (@Christine Burns MBE 🧜♀️🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈📚⧖)1620935098.0
@TheRoot Oh no they picked on the wrong person with this one @Lavernecox not going to stand for this crap— c.gonzales (@c.gonzales)1620931512.0
@IndieWire Hmm, a lot of agents and lawyers will now read (and write) the dubbing clause of their clients’ contract… https://t.co/AvQhIFiQKY— Dan Mirvish (@Dan Mirvish)1620914840.0
Laverne Cox herself had not yet publicly commented on the controversy at the time of this writing.