Why Did Universal Use a Man's Voice to Dub Laverne Cox in 'Promising Young Woman'?

'Promising Young Woman'Credit: Focus Features
Trans rights are human rights. 

Before we get into the controversy, we have to point out that Universal Pictures International has already apologized (via Entertainment Weekly).

What occurred was that for the Italian release of Promising Young Woman, the studio had people dub the voices of every character. But when it came to Laverne Cox's character, instead of using a female actress or trans actress, they used a male actor to dub her lines. 

News broke as the Guardian first reported these indiscretions, listing actor Roberto Pedicini as the voice of Cox's character. 

Eager to fix this, Universal said, “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.”

The studio continued, “While there was no malicious intent behind this mistake, we are working diligently to fix it. We have begun re-dubbing Ms. Cox’s voice with female actors in our international territories and are pushing back release dates to ensure the correct version is available."

They finished by saying, “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.”

'Promising Young Woman'Credit: Focus Features

This is definitely the right move by Universal, but you have to wonder at what level this mistake was made. It's disappointing and frustrating to see an inspired casting like this be undermined internationally. 

In an interview last December with Refinery29, Cox talked about wanting to play her character in the film.

"There's nothing in the script that suggested Gail might be trans," she said. "There's nothing in the script that suggested that Gail was Black. So, I think there was something that Emerald [Fennell] saw in me that she wanted me to be Gail, which I am so grateful for. And for me, honestly, when I read the script, I just wanted to be in the film. I just wanted to be a part of this project because I thought it was important. And I wanted to be involved in projects that I think are important, that are having conversations and engaging in storytelling that I think is important."

We hope the conversation from this dubbing opens an equally important conversation, and that studios and the world film community start to get these things right.      

Your Comment

2 Comments

While we all would like to know who made this decision, I don't for a nanosecond believe it was not malicious. It was.

This is another example of "transface"... the use of non-trans actors to deliberate portray transfolk in a negative light, "men in dresses", etc. The shocking image of a lovely Ms. Cox with a butch man's voice was meant to demean transwomen, in the same way that "blackface", white people playing black people in demeaning ways was practiced for decades in Hollywood.

Shame on Universal International !!!

May 17, 2021 at 5:52PM

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Kay Brown
Writer
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There is no way this was an accident.

May 18, 2021 at 5:20AM

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Paolo Mugnaini
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