Scarlett Johansson’s Agent Tells OpenAI to ‘Slow Down’ to Ensure Products Get Built ‘Transparently, Ethically and Responsibly’

Scarlett Johansson’s agent Bryan Lourd — who was involved in discussions between the actress and OpenAI when she decided not to pursue the voice opportunity — urged the tech company to “slow down” after the latest controversy.

On Monday, OpenAI pulled the ChatGPT voice ‘Sky’ after users noted the similarity to Johansson, insinuating there was an intended reference to the actress’ performance in the film “Her,” in which she voiced an AI girlfriend. While the AI company denied that the voice was in any way a deliberate imitation of Johansson, as it “belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice,” OpenAI announced in a blog post that they would pause the specific voice anyway.

“How these companies align with the actual individuals and creators is what’s key here — the verification of authenticity and receiving consent, and remuneration for consent,” CAA’s Lourd said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal Thursday.

“It’s not too late for these companies to slow down and put processes in place to ensure that the products that are being built are built transparently, ethically and responsibly,” Lourd added.

According to WSJ reporting, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman had first reached out to Lourd in August to pursue the opportunity for Johansson to voice the function, eventually meeting with the actress in September.

Ultimately, initial courting attempts by Altman were unsuccessful, with Johansson turning down the offer to work with OpenAI. However, Altman tried again in May, asking Lourd if the actress might reconsider.

In September, OpenAI introduced voice capabilities to its users for interactions with ChatGPT. However, concerns about the voice feature have been brought to the forefront since OpenAI’s latest demo of its new GPT-4o model made the voice feature more expressive and able to translate spoken language in real-time.

After the demo, Lourd reportedly confronted the OpenAI CEO, requesting an apology and for the voice to be removed. After days passed without a resolution, Johansson assembled a legal team and sent a letter asking that the company stop using the voice and provide clarity on how it was generated. A second letter was sent by the team on May 19 and the following day, the actress went public with the matter.

However, according to documents reviewed by the Washington Post, the actress who ended up voicing the ‘Sky’ feature was hired in June, prior to Altman contacting Johansson or Lourd at all. That voice actress’ agent told the Post that Johansson was never mentioned by OpenAI and brief recordings reviewed by the newspaper of her initial voice test sound reportedly “identical” to the ‘Sky’ voice feature.

In her Monday statement, Johansson said she was “shocked, angered and in disbelief” that Altman continued to create an AI voice that sounded “eerily” like her after declining to voice the system herself.

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

Since the debacle, the actress has seen SAG-AFTRA and more of Hollywood back up her calls for concern and protection.

The post Scarlett Johansson’s Agent Tells OpenAI to ‘Slow Down’ to Ensure Products Get Built ‘Transparently, Ethically and Responsibly’ appeared first on TheWrap.