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The Real Reason Why The Original Voice Actress In Her Was Replaced With Scarlett Johansson

Upon its 2013 release, Spike Jonze's lo-fi futurist romance "Her" was hailed by critics and audiences alike (per Rotten Tomatoes) as a soulful, compassionate film that's nuanced exploration of love and connection in an increasingly isolationist society satisfies the brain as much as it does the heart. The film would go on to make an Oscar winner of Jonze (for Best Original Screenplay) and land on many a critic's year-end "Best of" list (via Rolling Stone).

At the center of the story is Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a kind but lonely soul who, still reeling from the dissolution of his marriage, unexpectedly finds himself falling in love with Samantha, the AI-driven virtual assistant running his operating systems. With no physical body, Samantha and Theodore communicate largely through an ear piece in the film, with Scarlett Johansson providing the voice of the fast-learning, surprisingly empathetic virtual assistant.

While some might easily argue that Johansson delivers one of the strongest performances of her career in the role, she was, in fact, not the first actor to play Samantha in "Her." Here's why the film's original voice actress was replaced.    

Samantha Morton was replaced in Her because of Spike Jonze's 'process'

The actor who originally voiced Samantha in "Her" is the formidable Samantha Morton, who many might recognize from big projects like "Minority Report" or "The Walking Dead." For "Her," Morton wasn't actually replaced in the film until it was in post-production. Though it's not entirely clear why the director recast the role, Jonze offered nothing but praise for the actor during a 2013 interview with Vulture, stating that "Samantha was with us on set and was amazing." As for why he replaced Morton so late in production, Jonze simply offered that it was the result of his, "not-quite-painless-for-everyone-involved 'process.'" Ultimately, Jonze noted that he felt the film needed something that couldn't be created through Morton's performance, stating that "when we started editing, [we] realized that what the character/movie needed was different from what Samantha and I had created together. So we recast."

For her part, Morton — who was still credited as an associate producer on the movie — handled the move with staggering grace, telling Vanity Fair in 2019, "You've got to put it all in perspective. It feels like I created a painting and then put it in the attic, and nobody's seen it — but it's fine because I know it's there." While she noted her disappointment at not being invited to the film's promotional events, Morton went on to show her respect for Jonze's role as director, saying, "I think a director has every right to change any ingredient, up until the beat that you deliver [the movie]. And voice is a delicate thing ... If you listen to my voice and you listen to Scarlett's voice, they're just completely different flowers. I wished the project so much goodwill and love, because they're great people."

You really have to admire Morton's sense of perspective here, but we also really want to see the "Her" painting that's still wasting away in the metaphorical attic.