Actress Scarlett Johansson has filed a lawsuit against an entity that used her voice and her likeness in an ad campaign aimed at promoting its offerings–and all without permission from the actress, her manager, or her attorney.
And her success as a world-famous actress likely played a role in the entity’s unauthorized use of Johansson’s likeness.
An Expansive Acting Career
Over the course of her career, Johansson’s films have grossed more than $14.3 billion worldwide, earning her the title of the highest-grossing box office star of all time. Her acting career began with a role in an off-Broadway play when she was just a child. Between the ages of 10 and 17, the actress had roles in various films and began her shift into adult roles in 2003 with Lost in Translation. For her performance in the role, Johansson received a BAFTA Award for Best Actress.
Over the next six years, she was cast in various films, including Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003), A Love Song for Bobby Long (2004), Match Point (2005), Scoop (2006), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), and Break Up (2009).
In 2010, after winning a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in the Broadway performance of A View From the Bridge, Johansson began portraying Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the theatrical release of Iron Man 2. She reprised the role in several additional Marvel films, including The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Widow (2021).
In 2018 and 2019, Johansson was the highest-paid actress in the world, and as such, she has also been featured on Forbes‘ Celebrity 100 List multiple times. In 2021, Time Magazine named Johansson one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People.
Fame Brings the Actress More Problems
But her success as an actress has created issues for her from time to time, the most recent example of which is related to the unauthorized use of her voice and her likeness in an ad campaign–an ad campaign about which she had not been contacted. Johansson did not consent to the use of her likeness or her voice as she had no knowledge of the ad campaign at all.
The advertisement was created by an artificial intelligence app called Lisa AI: 90s Yearbook & Avatar. Johansson’s likeness and voice were used in an ad for the app, despite the company having never asked for the actress’s permission to do so.
“What’s up, guys? It’s Scarlett, and I want you to come with me,” the actress says in the clip just before a transition to several AI-generated images that resemble Johansson. Then a voiceover similar to the sound of the actress’s voice says, “It’s not limited to avatars only; you can also create images with texts and even your AI videos. I think you shouldn’t miss it.”
The ad includes a disclaimer that reads, “Images produced by Lisa AI. It has nothing to do with this person.” But in a statement, representatives for the actress confirmed that she is not a spokesperson for the Lisa AI app.
“We do not take these things lightly,” said Kevin Yorn, Johansson’s attorney. “Per our usual course of action in these circumstances, we will deal with it with all legal remedies that we have.”
Misuse of AI Continues to Grow
Johansson isn’t the first Hollywood actor to have her likeness used without her consent by an AI application. In October, actor Tom Hanks took to Instagram to warn fans that he had no affiliation with an ad for a dental plan that featured his likeness.
“Beware!!” Hanks captioned the photo of his unauthorized ad look-alike. “There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me. I have nothing to do with it.”
This Isn’t Johansson’s First Lawsuit Dealing With a “Breach”
Though her career as a Marvel actress was extremely successful, it was also marred by months of news coverage surrounding her battle with then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek after she claimed the studio breached its contract with her by setting a streaming release for Black Widow at the same time of its scheduled release in theaters.
In her July 2021 Disney lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Johansson alleged that Disney, the parent company of Marvel, sullied Black Widow‘s box office performance with the release of the film to the Disney+ streaming service the same day it was released at box offices across North America.
Disney responded by saying that Johansson had been paid $20 million for her role. Johansson, who played the role of Natasha Romanoff in Black Widow, claimed she’d been guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release independent of a streaming release.
The Scarlett Johansson lawsuit never materialized as in September 2021, Disney and the actress made an announcement, saying they had resolved their differences, and both parties looked forward to collaborating on upcoming projects together, as they were grateful for the creative relationship they shared.
Though details of the resolution were never made public, it is assumed that Johansson received additional compensation for her role in the Marvel movie as part of the settlement.