Avengers: Infinity War actress Scarlett Johansson has exited the upcoming drama film Rub & Tug following a backlash from many transgender actors and their supporters.
Scarlett Johansson was expected to play the role of Dante “Tex” Gill, a gangster and massage parlor owner who was born in 1952. Gill was born a female but dressed like a man.
Johansson announced her exit in Out:
“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. 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. According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release. 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. My production company, These Pictures, actively pursues projects that both entertain and push boundaries. We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.”
Johansson isn’t the first actor to come under fire. The upcoming Hellboy movie cast Ed Skrein in the role of Ben Daimio. He faced similar pressure from activists to drop the role in favor of an actor of Japanese descent. Like Johansson, Skrein dropped the project and was replaced by Daniel Dae Kim.
In fact, this wasn’t the first time Johansson had come under fire for a similar situation. Many called for her to drop the role of Major in the big screen adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. She was even accused of whitewashing the character. In that case, she remained with the project and starred in the film which grossed over $169 million worldwide.