Scarlett Johansson will no long appear in “Rub & Tug.” The actress has dropped out of the feature film in the wake of a boisterous backlash against casting that had her playing a transgender man.
Johansson, 33, was to have played Dante “Tex” Gill — a real-life figure who operated a massage parlor in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and 1980s. But activists and fellow actors criticized her involvement, largely because so many trans actors have trouble finding work.
“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,” Johansson said in a statement to OUT Magazine, which first reported the news earlier today. “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 realize it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.”
Johansson’s decision marks a dramatic reversal from her representative’s initial reaction to the controversy.
“Tell (critics) that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” the rep said, referring to cisgender actors who have played transgender characters on film and in TV.
Among those who had criticized the casting was transgender actress Trace Lysette, who has worked on Amazon’s “Transparent,” and who wrote, “I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles, but we know that’s not the case.”
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