Earlier this week, The Guardian reported that Universal Pictures had used a male actor (Roberto Pedicini) to provide the voice of Laverne Cox’s character in Promising Young Woman’s Italian-language dub, with an official preview clip released by the studio giving her what The Guardian describes as “a distinctively masculine tone.” The story also notes that male actors were used to dub Cox’s characters in the Italian versions of Orange Is The New Black and The Mindy Project, and male actors were also hired to dub her character in the German and Spanish versions of Promising Young Woman as well.
After a backlash that someone involved surely should’ve seen coming, Universal Pictures International has released a statement that’s half-apology and half-shrugging sidestep about how it didn’t mean to hurt anyone and how this is a problem with the whole industry—as if overdubbing a female actor with the voice of a male actor is anything but a conscious choice that someone definitely made. Anyway, the apology:
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.
As noted in the statement, some of the international versions of the film are being delayed so it can be re-dubbed with a female actor, but The Guardian notes that this won’t happen for the version of the movie in Spain until it comes out on home video since it’s been in theaters already for a month.
In an interesting aside, the Guardian story mentions that dubbing films into Italian was started because of a policy introduced by the fascist government in the ‘30s, which had outlawed films in other languages. Dubbing has stuck around since then, and now issues like what happened with Promising Young Woman are kicking off discussions about what the best approach to releasing non-European films in Europe might be. Like we said: Interesting!