Scarlett Johansson 'snubbed Saudi Crown Prince MbS' offer to fund upcoming film'

Scarlett Johansson 'snubbed Saudi Crown Prince MbS' offer to fund upcoming film'
A Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist has revealed that an offer by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to fund her biopic was snubbed due to the prince's human rights record.
3 min read
25 October, 2018
Scarlett Johansson reportedly snubbed the Saudi funding over MbS' human rights record [AFP]

Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson reportedly turned down funding for her next film from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to a prominent photojournalist.

Pulitzer prize-winner Lynsey Addario is to be played by Johansson in a biopic directed by Ridley Scott.

"Scarlett Johansson said absolutely not," Addario said in an interview with the New York Times. "She said: 'This guy is perpetuating the war in Yemen. He has women in prison.'"

"This was before the killing of Khashoggi, when he became one of the main people who wanted to fund the movie," Addario added, referring to the fallout that has followed the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Prince Mohammed is currently at the centre of intense international pressure following Khashoggi's assassination, with US President Donald Trump this week hinting that the powerful prince may have been behind the killing.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who had been living in self-imposed exile, visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to complete some documents that would allow him to remarry. The 59-year-old failed to re-emerge, prompting widespread accusations that Saudi Arabia's leadership had killed the dissident writer.

Riyadh admitted that Khashoggi had been killed at the consulate almost three weeks after his disappearance, however claimed that his death was the result of a scuffle. Riyadh changed its take on the killing on Thursday, with prosecutors from the kingdom saying that the murder was planned.

Crown Prince Mohammed has attempted to market himself
as a liberal reformer [Getty]

Khashoggi's death has highlighted the brutal side of Saudi rule under Crown Prince Mohammed, undoing millions of dollars of public relations work intended to present the 33-year-old heir as a liberal reformer.

"I didn't meet with him personally," Addario said. "But my sense is that he probably – my movie got folded into this huge charm campaign. And that fact that he wanted to show the west that he was into Hollywood, he was into all the great things of the west... Do I want him associated with this movie? Obviously not. And thank God he's not."

The revalations about Johansson's snub of Saudi funding may mark a turn in relations between the Saudi prince and popular public figures from the United States, who had entertained the prince's overtures.

In April, Prince Mohammed headed to Hollywood to meet studio heads and actors, including Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. 

"I look forward to my first visit soon to Saudi Arabia," Johnson wrote at the time. "I'll be sure to bring my finest tequila to share with the (sic) his Royal Highness and family."

Prince Mohammed appeared earlier this week on a panel of other Arab leaders at the Saudi Future Investment Initiative, dubbed "Davos in the desert", which was largely boycotted by Western politicians and corporate bigwigs over the Khashoggi affair.

The prince broke his silence over the Khashoggi affair, describing it as a "heinous crime".