South O’ the Highway

Scarlett Johansson Turns Down Saudi Prince’s Money for New Biopic

The show will go on with her on board, but he's out.

Amagansett’s Scarlett Johansson has rejected Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman‘s involvement as a financial backer for her upcoming film, in which she will star as Lynsey Addario, a real-life photojournalist who’s work focuses on global conflicts in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa and how they effect the women in those areas.

During a Facebook live interview, Addario told New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, that the biopic was just about to go into production when Johansson learned of bin Salman’s involvement. She objected to him having any connection to the project due to his track record of throwing innocent women into prison and perpetuating the war in Yemen. While the film has not been cancelled, production has been delayed.

Addario clarified that the Saudi Prince’s involvement began when he was on a PR tour in Hollywood last spring, months before he was implicated in the death of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist for The Washington Post who was killed in a Saudi embassy in Turkey after openly criticizing bin Salman’s rule in his writings. While Addario had not met him personally, she had spent time working and photographing life in Saudi Arabia and couldn’t help expressing relief to Kristof that bin Salman was no longer associated with her biopic.

The film will be based on Addario’s memoir, It’s What I Do, which describes her journey from taking photos on quiet streets to risking her life in some of the most dangerous places in the world, disclosing how the shift has affected her professionally and personally. In her line of work, she has been kidnapped twice, brutally beaten and thrown out of a moving car.

The Guardian reports that the film was originally going to be directed by East Hampton resident Steven Spielberg but Ridley Scott has been chosen to take over the project. Jennifer Lawrence was set to play Addario, but according to Vanity Fair, she has decided to take a year off from acting to work with Represent.Us, a bipartisan effort to pass anti-corruption legislation at the state level.

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