Scarlett Johansson ‘Angered’ and ‘Shocked’ Over OpenAI Employing Voice ‘Eerily Similar to Mine’

OpenAI acknowledged concerns over the voice in question, stating that it would 'pause the use' of it

<p>Cindy Ord/Getty Images</p> Scarlett Johansson

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson is accusing OpenAI of using a voice "eerily similar" to hers after she declined an offer to lend her voice for a ChatGPT system.

The North Star actress said in a statement to PEOPLE on Monday, May 20 that she "received an offer from [OpenAI CEO] Sam Altman" to use her voice for its current ChatGPT 4.0 system in September 2023.

Altman explained to her why he thought she'd be the perfect fit, she added.

"He told me that he felt that by my voicing the system, I could bridge the gap between tech companies and creatives and help consumers to feel comfortable with the seismic shift concerning humans and AI. He said he felt that my voice would be comforting to people."

However, she ultimately decided to turn down the offer due to "personal reasons."

<p>Didem Mente/Anadolu Agency via Getty</p> Stock image of a phone and the ChatGPT logo

Didem Mente/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Stock image of a phone and the ChatGPT logo

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"Nine months later, my friends, family and the general public all noted how much the newest system named 'Sky' sounded like me," Johansson, 39, said.

Upon hearing the demo herself, Johansson said she was "shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine that my closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference."

She added that Altman "insinuated" the "similarity was intentional" when he wrote the word "her" via X (formerly Twitter), a message Johansson says was "a reference to the film in which I voiced a chat system, Samantha, who forms an intimate relationship with a human."

In the Spike Jonze movie Her, which Johansson claims Altman is referring to, she voiced a virtual assistant with which Joaquin Phoenix's character develops a relationship.

She noted that two days before ChatGPT 4.0 demo was unveiled, Altman reached out to her agent and asked if she would "reconsider" her decision.



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"Before we could connect, the system was out there."

Johansson said she was "forced to hire legal action" which issued Altman with two letters, asking them to explain in detail how they created Sky's voice.

She concluded, "In a time when we are all grappling with deepfakes and the protection of our own likeness, our own work, our own identities, I believe these are questions that deserve absolute clarity. I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected.”

PEOPLE reached out to OpenAI for comment.

The company acknowledged concerns about Sky's voice on X Monday, stating it would "pause the use of Sky while we address them."

In a blog post shared on its website, OpenAI explained how the voices were selected for the system.

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The company wrote in part, "Each of the five distinct voices you hear has been carefully selected through an extensive process spanning five months involving professional voice actors, talent agencies, casting directors, and industry advisors."

OpenAI later pointed out that every actor is "paid above-market rates," a policy that will "continue for as long as their voices are used in our products."

It stated that it received "over 400 submissions" from hopefuls wanting to participate, and selected five finalists, each of whom flew in to record their voices in September.

"The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson's, and it was never intended to resemble hers," Altman told Entertainment Weekly in a statement Monday. "We cast the voice actor behind Sky's voice before any outreach to Ms. Johansson. Out of respect for Ms. Johansson, we have paused using Sky's voice in our products. We are sorry to Ms. Johansson that we didn't communicate better."

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