Scarlett Johansson has pulled out of the film ‘Rub And Tug’, in which she was set to play a transgender character.
The 33-year-old actress signed up to play Jean Marie Gill - preferred name Dante ‘Tex’ Gill - in the real-life drama about a massage parlour and sex work business in Pittsburgh in the ’70s and ’80s.
Following a backlash to the decision to cast Scarlett as a trans man, her rep issued a statement, saying: “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”
Felicity Huffman was nominated for an Oscar after playing a transgender woman in 2005’s ‘Transamerica’, Jared Leto won a best supporting actor Oscar for playing a trans woman in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, and Jeffrey Tambor won two Emmys for his role as a transgender woman in the TV series ‘Transparent’.
After being accused of “ciswashing”, Scarlett issued a statement to LGBT lifestyle publication Out on Friday (13 July) stating she had withdrawn from the project and admitted her original statement had been “insensitive”.
“In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project,” the statement reads.
“Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realise it was insensitive.
“I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.”
She added: “While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film.
“I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly.”
It’s not the first time Scarlett Johansson has been at the centre of controversy after being cast in a major movie.
She took the lead role in 2017’s ‘Ghost In The Shell’ – playing Major Motoko Kusanagi - who was Japanese in the original manga series, resulting in accusations of ‘whitewashing’.