Johansson in Jordan: Hollywood star starts shooting Hong Kong scenes for new film

Scarlett Johansson blends into the city’s market scenes in a leading role tinged with controversy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 June, 2016, 2:43pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 June, 2016, 8:43pm

Hollywood screen siren Scarlett Johansson has been seen shooting scenes for her new film Ghost in the Shell on the streets of Yau Ma Tei.

The 31-year-old Hollywood actress donned a black bobbed wig with a grey and khaki bomber jacket for filming in Pak Hoi Street yesterday.

The Avengers star was a controversial choice for the lead role, an Asian character known as ­Major Motoko Kusanagi, in director Rupert Sanders’ adaptation of the Japanese manga series. The decision to cast her prompted ­accusations of “whitewashing” and even sparked a petition to have her removed from the role.

The film shoot was scheduled to take place from Tuesday to Thursday, but could continue into next week if needed, according to a letter sent to neighbouring ­businesses by production company October Pictures.

But business owners appeared unfazed by the filming when ­approached by the Post, with the majority saying trade had been unaffected. Jesse Flores, owner of a small food shop in Saigon Street, expressed his excitement, saying it reminded him of when actors such as Bruce Lee would film in Hong Kong.

Margaret Cho, George Takei protest over Hollywood ‘whitewashing’ of Asian characters

He said: “I felt bright, I felt energised, because I love the art scene. It is just once in a blue moon so it is OK for them to film here.” On seeing Johansson, he said: “I thought she was big, but she was small.”

Onlookers also seemed unruffled by the minor congestion caused by the film set, even when scores of extras wearing sci-fi costumes began flooding the streets.

Shoppers continued making purchases at market stalls, where mannequin cyborg dolls were ­positioned in between cameras and tarpaulin.

Earlier this week, Johansson was spotted walking the streets of Sheung Wan ahead of filming.

Vincent Mikolay, an entrepreneur who recently moved to Hong Kong from Los Angeles, said he saw the Girl with a Pearl Earring actress close to his home next to the Chinese YMCA on Sunday.

He said: “She was walking down the street wearing a New York Yankees hat. She ducked into the YMCA as it started to rain heavily. I think she was keeping a pretty low profile.

“I lived in LA for 10 years so I just learned to leave celebrities alone – they are real people. They obviously wanted to keep it quiet that she’s here. I tried to give her privacy.”

Ghost in the Shell is due for ­release in March 2017