Scarlett Johansson reportedly vetoed funding from the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, for her next film.
The actor is set to play the Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario in a biopic directed by Ridley Scott, but when she found out the initial set of funders included Bin Salman, she rejected his involvement.
“Scarlett Johansson said absolutely not,” Addario said in an interview with Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. “She said: ‘This guy is perpetuating the war in Yemen. He has women in prison.’”
She also added: “This was before the killing of Khashoggi, when he became one of the main people who wanted to fund the movie.”
Bin Salman has recently been implicated in the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who died in the Saudi embassy in Turkey after writing critically about Bin Salman’s rule.
“I didn’t meet with him personally,” Addario said. “But my sense is that he probably – my movie got folded into this huge charm campaign. And that fact that he wanted to show the west that he was into Hollywood, he was into all the great things of the west … Do I want him associated with this movie? Obviously not. And thank God he’s not.”
In April, Bin Salman headed to Hollywood to meet with studio heads and stars including Dwayne Johnson. It was a visit that led to protests and last week the CNN reporter Oliver Darcy tweeted a screen grab of an Instagram post from Johnson at the time stating it was a “pleasure” to meet him.
“Such a silly, clickbait post, Oliver,” Johnson fired back. “I’m surprised you’d post this. Go back and really read my words. I listened and learned then. As I listen and learn now. C’mon man.”
Addario’s work has focused on global conflicts and particularly the effect they have had on women. During her career, she has been kidnapped twice and sexually assaulted while detained in Libya. The upcoming film, originally set to be directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Jennifer Lawrence, is based on Addario’s memoir It’s What I Do.
Johansson was recently embroiled in controversy after signing on to play a transgender character in fact-based crime drama Rub & Tug, a decision that led to upset and caused her to abandon the project. “Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive,” a statement read.