The Gossip Guide

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson claims OpenAI replicated her voice without consent after she turned down a ChatGPT offer: ‘I was shocked’

Scarlett Johansson is standing up to defend her voice.

On Monday, the actress known for her role in Her accused the tech company OpenAI of using a voice “eerily similar” to hers in the latest version of its ChatGPT bot. Johansson had specifically declined to lend her voice to the system, leaving her “shocked” and “forced to hire legal counsel” to address the issue.

OpenAI denies that the voice in question, named Sky, was meant to imitate Johansson.

In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Johansson said that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman contacted her in September, asking her to voice ChatGPT 4.0 because he thought her voice would be “comforting to people.” She declined for personal reasons.

“Nine months later, my friends, family, and the general public all noticed how much the new system named ‘Sky’ sounded like me,” said Johansson, who famously voiced an AI assistant in the 2013 movie Her. “When I heard the demo, I was shocked, angry, and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so similar to mine that even my closest friends and news outlets couldn’t tell the difference.”

Johansson’s statement came hours after OpenAI announced it was pausing the use of Sky while addressing questions about the software. “We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice,” the company said, adding that Sky “is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice.” The company said it couldn’t share the names of the voice talent due to privacy concerns.

Johansson also highlighted that Altman tweeted the word “her” when the ChatGPT voice demos were released, suggesting a connection between Her and Sky. “Mr. Altman even hinted that the similarity was intentional, tweeting a single word ‘her’ — a reference to the film where I voiced a chat system, Samantha, who develops an intimate relationship with a human,” Johansson said. (Altman has previously cited Her as one of his favorite films.)

Johansson further alleged that two days before the ChatGPT demo was released, Altman contacted her agent again, asking if she would reconsider the offer. Before she could respond, Sky was released. “As a result of their actions,” Johansson said, “I had to hire legal counsel, who wrote two letters to Mr. Altman and OpenAI, detailing what they had done and asking them to explain the process by which they created the ‘Sky’ voice. Consequently, OpenAI reluctantly agreed to take down the ‘Sky’ voice.”

Closing her statement, Johansson called for new laws to address AI technology and individual rights. “In a time when we are all dealing with deepfakes and protecting our own likeness, our own work, our own identities, I believe these are questions that need absolute clarity,” she said. “I look forward to resolution through transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to ensure individual rights are protected.”

When asked for comment on Johansson’s remarks Monday evening, Altman reiterated, “The voice of Sky is not Scarlett Johansson’s, and it was never intended to resemble hers. 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.” He added, “We are sorry to Ms. Johansson that we didn’t communicate better.”

Back to top