Universal Can't Seem to Stop Hiring Male Actors to Dub Laverne Cox's Voice

Illustration for article titled Universal Can't Seem to Stop Hiring Male Actors to Dub Laverne Cox's Voice
Image: Randy Shropshire / Stringer (Getty Images)

The Italian release of Oscar-winnning film A Promising Young Woman has been delayed following controversy over a male voice actor dubbing Laverne Cox’s voice. Variety reports that Universal Pictures International has apologized for the move, insisting they meant no offense to Cox, one of the most renowned transgender women in Hollywood.

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But Universal’s statement, while apologetic, doesn’t explain why the move happened in the first place:

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.

In A Promising Young Woman, Cox plays Gail, a friend of the film’s protagonist, Cassie, played by Carrie Mulligan. But in the film’s Italian trailer, which has since been removed from YouTube, Cox is reportedly dubbed over by what The Guardian described as a “distinctively masculine tone.” The voice belonged to Roberto Pedicini, a cis-gender man who has been doing voiceover work since the 1980s.

It’s baffling that nobody in charge of casting wondered if having the cisgender voice actor known as the go-to guy for dubbing over Jim Carey, Woody Harrelson, and Javier Bardem roles in Italian, would be the best choice for Laverne Cox. Laverne Cox is a woman. A woman voice actor should have been tapped for this role, point-blank, period. The fact that, in 2021, not a single soul in charge of any decision making at Universal Pictures International watched these dubs and thought, “Huh, maybe this isn’t a good idea” is galling.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Universal has done this.

From Variety (emphasis ours):

Universal moved forward with casting a cis male actor to dub Cox’s character after having done so in the past for roles such as in “Orange is the New Black.” Cis men were also cast for the versions released in Spain, which released in April, and Germany, which has pushed back the release to re-dub with a woman’s voice like in Italy. In Spain, the home entertainment release will be re-dubbed with a female voice.

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Cox has yet to release a statement about this, but a big “fuck you” is certainly warranted.

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.

DISCUSSION

thedrdonna
"Not a real" DrDonna

While this seems shitty, it’s also fairly unsurprising. Trans folks have to deal with transphobia in a bunch of different forms, and one of those ways is that people who are clearly uncomfortable with us tend not to think too hard about decisions that involve us, because they don’t like dealing with their own discomfort. The phrase “first thought, worst thought” usually applies in that circumstance, and part of the hassle of being trans is in having to raise our own voices to push back against the inertia of laziness in other people to address it.