The international release of Emerald Fennell's revenge thriller Promising Young Woman was postponed amid outrage that a male voice actor was hired to dub the voice of actress Laverne Cox in the Italian-language version of the film. According to The Guardian, the now-restricted film used a "distinctively masculine tone" when Cox's character Gail talks to Carrie Mulligan's Cassie in the film's Italian trailer. Cox's voice was dubbed by Roberto Pedicini, a cisgender man and Italian voice actor who has done dubbing work over the voices of actors like Jim Carrey and Woody Harrelson.
Italian viewers immediately expressed outrage over the move, which Italian trans actor and voice actor Vittoria Schisano called "insulting" and "a straight-up act of violence" in an interview with The Guardian. "I'd feel bullied if I were [Cox]," she said.
Universal Pictures International apologized for the choice but didn't offer much of an explanation as to why they used a male actor to dub Cox's voice 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," a spokesperson said in a statement to Variety.
The statement added that the studio is redubbing Cox's voice with a woman's voice and is pushing back release dates until the issue is amended. "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."
Still, the studio's decision to use a male voice actor to dub over a trans woman's voice is a harmful, transphobic casting decision. It's also not the first time that Universal used a male actor to dub for one of Cox's characters, using a cis male voice actor for her role as Sophia Burset in Orange Is The New Black, as well as for her appearances on The Mindy Project.
When Refinery29 spoke with Cox about Promising Young Woman last year, she highlighted some of the film's themes of accountability and taking back personal power. "I am insanely grateful that I got to be a part of this film and that this film exists," she said. "And the questions [the film] brings up around accountability, how we deal with trauma and grief, and how we empower ourselves are at the center of this story and narrative. And now is the time to be having these conversations."
Cox has not publicly commented on the Italian film's dubbing, but the casting directors who created this whole violent mess might learn a thing or two about taking responsibility, being accountable to trans people, and centering trans voices in the future.