Film Studio: 'Sorry for the Pain' of Laverne Cox Dubbing Flap

Universal hired male actor for Italian version of 'Promising Young Woman'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2021 6:14 AM CDT
Film Studio: 'Sorry for the Pain' of Laverne Cox Dubbing Flap
This image shows Carey Mulligan, left, Emerald Fennell, second from right, and Laverne Cox, right, on the set of "Promising Young Woman."   (Focus Features via AP)

In the Oscar-winning film Promising Young Woman, Laverne Cox plays the role of Gail, the best friend and boss of Cassie, the protagonist. But the Italian version of the movie has now spurred a dubbing controversy, as the voice of the transgender actor has been replaced with that of a male actor. The "distinctly masculine" voice that can be heard coming from Cox is that of actor Roberto Pedicini, reports the Guardian, which notes that a male actor was also recruited to dub Cox's voice in the Spanish and German versions of the film. Cox has faced this before in Italy: A male actor's voice was used for her own in the international versions of Orange Is the New Black and The Mindy Project. Viewers aren't happy about the latest flap, especially Italian transgender actor Vittoria Schisano, who has lent her voice to a Cox character in the past. "This dubbing choice was a straight-up act of violence," she says, adding, "It's insulting. I'd feel bullied if I were [Cox]."

Both the Guardian and the BBC dive into the history of dubbing, with the latter noting that voice actors playing a gender other than their own is more common for female actors playing male characters—think Bart Simpson on The Simpsons, who's voiced by Nancy Cartwright. A rep for Universal Pictures, which is distributing Cox's film overseas, says in a statement that the international versions of the film are now being redubbed with female voice actors where possible, even postponing release dates if need be, and that it's "deeply grateful" to Cox for "opening our eyes to a bias that neither we nor many in our industry had recognized." The film studio adds it's "sorry for the pain caused" and that "there was no malicious intent." The AV Club, however, calls it a "half-apology and half-shrugging sidestep" on a supposedly industrywide issue, "as if overdubbing a female actor with the voice of a male actor is anything but a conscious choice that someone definitely made." (Read more Laverne Cox stories.)

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