Oscar-nominated film Promising Young Woman was scheduled to be released in Italy on May 13, but Universal Pictures has had to delay the film’s debut after incorrectly dubbing the voice of Laverne Cox’s character, Gail.
In a promotional clip for the movie, Cox — who is transgender — was dubbed by Italian voice actor Roberto Pedicini, causing immediate backlash on social media.
The film studio will now re-synchronise Cox’s voice with a female actor before debuting Promising Young Woman in Italian cinemas, and will also correct local versions of the movie in other territories such as Spain and Germany where Cox had also been dubbed by a male.
In response to the incident, Universal gave a statement to The Guardian, with a spokesperson saying, “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 recognised.
“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.”
Italian actor and voice actor Vittoria Schisano — who is also trans — told The Guardian that she feels the dubbing choice was a “straight-up act of violence.”
“It’s insulting. I’d feel bullied if I were [Cox],” she said, noting that she had not been invited to audition for the voiceover part in Promising Youg Woman, despite having dubbed for Cox previously on the Netflix documentary Amend: The Fight for America.
Promising Youg Woman was written and directed by Emerald Fennell who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay at the 91st Academy Awards. The film was nominated for five nods overall, including Best Picture.
Italy has been guilty of using the wrong voice to dub Cox’s performances in the past, using male performer Andrea Lavagnino as the voiceover for Cox’s roles in Orange Is the New Black, The Mindy Project and Doubt.
In 2020, a similar debate raged around the dubbing for Oscar-winning film Soul from Disney Pixar in which Jamie Foxx‘s character Joe Gardner — the first Black protagonist in Pixar’s history — was dubbed by white actors in territories such as Denmark, Germany and Spain.
Pixar is currently undertaking a search for its first-ever transgender character, for an upcoming, as yet undisclosed, film.