Universal Pictures is postponing the international distribution of “Promising Young Woman” amid outrage that cisgender male actors were hired to dub Laverne Cox’s voice in European editions of the movie.
The movie, which also stars Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham, was initially slated for a May 13 release in Italy under the title “Una Donna Promettente.” Backlash ensued, however, when Universal Pictures Italy posted a since-restricted clip of the movie on social media last week showing Cox’s character, Gail, speaking in a distinctly masculine voice. According to People, Gail’s dialogue was dubbed in Italian by Roberto Pedicini.
LGBTQ advocates and media personalities lambasted the decision to misgender Cox, known globally as a transgender icon and rights activist, in the dubbing stage. And once news of Pedicini’s casting surfaced, it was reported that other European editions of “Promising Young Woman” had also employed cisgender male actors to voice Gail ― most notably in Spain, where the movie hit theaters last month.
Among those to decry the news was trans performer Vittoria Schisano, who had dubbed Cox in the Netflix documentary series “Amend: The Fight for America” for its Italian release. “I think this dubbing choice was a straight-up act of violence,” she told The Guardian. “It’s insulting. I’d feel bullied if I were [Cox].”
Others on social media felt similarly.
By Wednesday, Universal Pictures released a statement vowing to re-dub Cox’s character using female voiceover performers in Italy and elsewhere before resuming the global distribution of “Promising Young Woman.”
In Spain, the home entertainment version will be similarly re-dubbed.
“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,” read the statement, which appeared in The Hollywood Reporter and the New York Daily News, among other outlets. “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,” the studio continued. “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.”
A new release date for “Promising Young Woman” in Italy has not yet been announced. As of Wednesday, Cox had yet to comment publicly on the news, but a source told People that Universal was at work on “provisions” that would “prevent this from ever happening again.”
On Tuesday, Cox ― who in 2014 made history as the first openly trans person to be nominated for an Emmy for her role on “Orange Is the New Black” ― was announced as the new host of “Live From E!” She’ll replace Giuliana Rancic in leading the network’s red carpet coverage starting next year.