Universal Used Male Actor to Dub Laverne Cox in Italian Version of ‘Promising Young Woman’; Studio Apologizes, Film’s Release Delayed

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Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman

The Italian release of the Oscar-winning thriller Promising Young Woman has been delayed after the Italian-language version of the film sparked outrage for having male voice actor Roberto Pedicini voice the character Gail played by prominent trans actor Laverne Cox.

The film’s release was delayed from the planned May 13 date after a now restricted clip from the film depicted Cox’s character being dubbed over with Pedicini’s voice was posted to Universal Pictures Italy’s official YouTube channel on May 6. The clip is still online through Italian film and TV news outlet Movietele.

The preview clip immediately drew the ire of audiences on social media, including Italian trans voice actor Vittoria Schisano. “I think this dubbing choice was a straight-up act of violence,” Schisano told The Guardian. Schisano previously provided the Italian dub for Cox in the Netflix documentary series Amend: The Fight For America and said that she wasn’t considered to lend her voice to Cox’s character in the film, known in Italy as Una Donna Promettente. “It’s insulting. I’d feel bullied if I were [Cox],” she added.

The dubbing choice is the latest in a string of non-English dubbing choices that have lacked gender affirmation involving characters Cox portrayed. The Spanish and German language versions of Promising Young Woman casted cisgender men to voice Cox’s character. The Italian dubs of her characters in Orange Is The New Black, The Mindy Project and Doubt were done by male voice actor Andrea Lavagnino.

The criticism renewed conversation around the Italian dubbing industry’s severe lack of diversity, most notably the miniscule number of voice actors from trans and non-white populations. Schisano said she has never met another trans voice actor in Italy. Associazione Nazionale Attori Doppiatori president Daniele Giuliani told The Guardian that the organization “never had Black voice actors” because “there aren’t any who have specialized in voice acting” rather than out of a desire to not have them.

In a statement to The Guardian, Universal Studios International thanked the trans community “for opening our eyes to a bias that neither we nor many in our industry had recognized.” The studio apologized and said it has begun the process of “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.”

Read Universal Studios International’s full statement below:

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.

Photo courtesy of Greg Hernandez/Creative Commons

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