Scarlett Johansson Is "Shocked, Angered" Over ChatGPT Voice She Says "Sounds Eerily Similar" to Hers

The company that created the voice claims it wasn't modeled after the actress.

Actress Scarlett Johansson arrives at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Scarlett Johansson has deep concerns over a ChatGPT voice she claims sounds like hers—though its creators say it wasn't modeled after her.

As reported by NPR, lawyers for Johansson contacted OpenAI to ask the company to detail how it developed the voice named "Sky," with the company publishing one such report on May 19.

This report reads, "We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity's distinctive voice—Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice. To protect their privacy, we cannot share the names of our voice talents."

One of the reasons Johansson is disturbed by Sky's similarity to her voice is that Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, has previously reached out to the actress to ask that her voice be licensed for use by the ChatGPT voice assistant.

"After much consideration and for personal reasons, I declined the offer," Johansson stated.

"I 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 continued, "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."

Sam Altman

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, says Sky's voice was not modeled after Scarlett Johansson.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Altman said in a statement to NPR that the voice actor for Sky was cast before the company reached out to the actress.

The wider context for this story is Johansson's role in the 2013 movie Her, in which she voices an AI assistant which the protagonist, played by Joaquin Phoenix, falls in love with.

In a 2023 interview with the Salesforce blog, Altman admitted that this was his favorite movie about AI. "The idea of a conversational language interface was incredibly prophetic," he said. "It’s unfair to dunk on old sci-fi movies for all the parts they got wrong. It’s amazing the amount they get right, like the interface in Her. But it would be great for Hollywood to have some new tropes [of AI gone rogue]."

On May 13 of this year, Altman also simply wrote on X, "her," the same day his company live-streamed a demo of Sky's voice as part of its GPT-4o update. He did not elaborate on what he meant by this.

In response, one critic wrote, "Sam, 'Her' (2012) [NB: the movie was actually relased in 2013] was meant as a grim dystopia, a cautionary tale of alienation by AI.

"Not as a business strategy for @OpenAI to impose on humanity."

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.