Home World Scarlett Johansson vs. AI: Whose Voice Is That?

Scarlett Johansson vs. AI: Whose Voice Is That?


Scarlett Johansson Wins the Robot War Against Sam Altman

Remember last November when Sam Altman got fired from Open AI — before he was swiftly rehired — after his board of directors determined that the CEO had not been “consistently candid” in his communications? 

Well, it starting to look like maybe the board had a point. 

On May 20, Scarlett Johannson posted a Tweet accusing Altman of appropriating her voice for his latest artificial intelligence bot. “Last September, I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system,” she wrote. “After much consideration and for personal reasons, I declined the offer. Nine months later, my friends, family and the general public all noted how much the newest system named Sky sounded like me.” 

It sounded like her, alright, so much so that on May 13, the day the sultry-toned Sky bot was unveiled, Altman posted a one-word tweet — “her”— which pretty much everyone interpreted as a reference to Spike Jonze’s 2013 sci-fi drama Her, in which Johansson happened to play … a sultry-toned AI bot.

Johannson summoned her lawyers, who she’s kept busy in the past with similar situations; last year she sued a company called Lisa AI when her image and voice were allegedly used to advertise that company’s deepfake generating abilities. According to Johannson’s post, she was particularly steamed that Altman had gone ahead with Sky’s release even though just two days earlier, he had called Johansson’s agent asking her to reconsider his offer, which she did not. 

“In a time when we are all grappling with deepfakes and the protection of our own likeness, our own work, our own identities, I believe these are questions that deserve absolute clarity,” Johansson tweeted.

In the end, Open AI — which continues to deny that Sky is a Johansson deepfake, telling THR that the voice was selected for its “range of characteristics” and “not for their similarity to any particular person” — took Sky offline. 

“Out of respect for Ms. Johansson,” Altman said in a statement, “we have paused using Sky’s voice in our products.”

Paul Walter Hauser Pulls a “Reverse Dwayne Johnson”

There’s no shortage of wrestlers looking to trade Spandex for an acting career. But the list of award-winning thespians heading into the wrestling ring? Paul Walter Hauser might be the only one on it. The 37-year-old white-hot star — he nabbed an Emmy last year for Black Bird, has just been cast in Marvel’s Fantastic Four film and the Naked Gun reboot (opposite Liam Neeson), and landed the lead in the Josh Gad-directed Chris Farley biopic — will be making his wrestling debut June 1 in Major League Wrestling’s Battle Riot VI, competing against 40 others (none of them with an Emmy) for a shot at the MLW world heavyweight crown. “I’m doing a reverse Dwayne Johnson,” Hauser tells THR. A lifelong wrestling fan, Hauser decided to give the sport a serious try after competing at a charity event in November in a match that left him bruised but determined. “I just popped a couple of Ibuprofen and jumped into a cold plunge tub, which basically saved my life,” he says of his pain management routine. He’s since hired a trainer in hopes of losing some weight. — RYAN GAJEWSKI

New Board Game Lets Players Go Directly to Director Jail

It sounds like a board game only Roy Cohn could love, but an Ohio company, Facade Games, is peddling something called Hollywood 1947. Players are divided into “communists” and “patriots,” with the former racing to complete their cinematic masterpieces before being exposed by the latter. Its husband-and-wife creators, Travis and Holly Hancock, who financed the game’s development with a Kickstarter campaign (their startup also makes games based on the Black Plague and the Salem witch trials), have sold so many since they introduced it in the fall (40,000 copies and counting) that they’ve just released a new deluxe edition, at $44.99, with metal tokens and a costume expansion pack. Surprisingly, the game seems to have found enthusiasts here in Hollywood, where the actual, less fun blacklist was invented. “Really cute and highly recommend,” raved screenwriter Jessica Ellis in a recent viral tweet. — JULIAN SANCTON

Like a (Rein)deer in Headlights: Richard Gadd Gets Famous

Many celebrities are stalked after they become a celebrity, but Richard Gadd is one of the few who was stalked before — in fact, it’s how he became one. Still, the star of Netflix’s Baby Reindeer, a drama based on the 35-year-old Scottish comedian’s stage show about his real-life, pre-fame encounter with an obsessive fan, is having some trouble adjusting to his newfound international stardom. “The crazy part of it,” he tells THR, “is the sudden feeling that there’s eyes on me all the time. Being a self-conscious person, it can be quite challenging. On the flight over here to L.A., the captain came back because he had heard I was on the plane. Then the other pilot came back, too, so that was quite surreal.” Back in the U.K., Gadd tried to grab a pint as usual at his local tavern. “But it was bedlam, it was chaos. I kind of thought, ‘Oh, I can’t really go into pubs anymore and expect to sit there quietly in a corner and have some food.’ ” — CHRIS GARDNER

A version of this story first appeared in the May 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.



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