Scarlett Johansson says Ivanka Trump’s silence is ‘cowardly’

Scarlett Johansson has doubled down on her characterisation of Ivanka Trump as “complicit” in her father’s actions and administration, saying the first daughter’s silence on a range of social issues and choice to only advocate “behind the scenes” was old fashioned, uninspired and “really cowardly”.


Johansson played Ms Trump in a March skit on the sketch show Saturday Night Live, in an advertisement for a new fragrance called ‘Complicit’.

“Complicit: for the woman who could stop all this, and won’t,” the ad’s voiceover stated.

Ms Trump, who professed feminist, socially liberal beliefs and claims to be a political independent, has been quiet on controversial policy moves by her father’s administration, such as withdrawal of aid for international non-government organisations that offer counselling or information about abortions. She recently became a federal employee as assistant to the president.

Ms Trump responded to the SNL skit in an interview on Wednesday, saying she “didn’t know what it meant to be complicit.”

“If being complicit is wanting to, is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit,” said Ms Trump.

Ms Trump also addressed critics of her silence on her own administration’s actions, saying she was an advocate behind the scenes.

“I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence,” Ms Trump told CBS’ Gayle King. “In some case it’s through protest and it’s through going on the nightly news and talking about or denouncing every issue in which you disagree with. Other times it is quietly, and directly, and candidly.”

Ms Johansson, speaking at the Women in the World summit in New York on Thursday, said that explanation didn’t hold water.

“It was really baffling,” she said during an on stage interview with Arianna Huffington.

“I think you can’t have it both ways right? If you take a job as a public advocate you must advocate publicly.”

“[Ms Trump] said something I which I found particularly disappointing, which is that she felt that… the biggest influence she would have or change she would make, would be behind closed doors…

“I thought ‘well that’s empowering’,” said Johansson to much laughter.

“How old fashioned??? this idea that behind a great man is a great woman. What about being in front of that person or next to them?” said Johansson.

“Powerful women are often concerned they’re going to be seen in an unforgiving light and screw that, it’s so old fashioned, it’s so uninspired and actually, I think, really cowardly. I was just so disappointed by that interview that she gave.”

Johansson, who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary last year and spoke at the anti-Trump Women’s March in January, went on to say she realised Ivanka Trump was in a very complicated situation and that she had met her several times when they were both younger, finding her to be a smart and engaging woman.

Johansson was not asked during the session about a controversy of her own – accusations of whitewashing over her casting in the film the Ghost in the Shell, which is based on a Japanese manga classic. Anger over her casting is believed to have contributed to the film’s poor performance at the box office.