'I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.'
After signing on first of all to play an Asian woman in Ghost in the Shell and secondly to play a transgender man in Rub & Tug to much controversy, it seems like Scarlett Johansson finally understands why people have an issue with her casting. After a defensive first statement about her Rub & Tug role, the actress has just announced that she would be giving up the role of Dante ‘Tex’ Gill and said she has ‘learned a lot from the [LGBTQ+] community’.
She said in a lengthy statement to Out.com, ‘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 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.’
The Avengers: Infinity War actress was slated to play transgender man Dante ‘Tex’ Gill, an individual who ran a brothel posing as a massage parlour in 1970s/80s Pittsburgh. The film Rub & Tug is set to be directed by Ghost in the Shell’s Rupert Sanders (which explains a lot) and as the news is still fresh, there’s no word yet on who will be sliding into Dante’s costume.
Scarlett continued, ‘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.’
This lengthier statement seems to have finally struck the right chord, as we’re not going to lie – her first statement was pretty shocking. When first pressed on her Rub & Tug casting announcement by journalists, she said in a pointed and defensive statement, ‘Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.’
Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman both played trans characters in their respective films Dallas Buyers’ Club and Transamerica, while Jeffrey Tambor played transwoman Maura Pfefferman in Transparent. All three cisgendered actors saw great critical acclaim for their performances, with Leto winning an Oscar for best supporting actor, Huffman a Golden Globe for best actress in a motion picture and Tambor a Golden Globe for best performance by an actor in a comedy or musical television series. (Jeffrey Tambor has since left Transparent in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.)
Here’s hoping that Rub & Tug does the right thing and puts out a casting call for actors from the trans community, who rarely have the chance to tell their own stories onscreen in Hollywood.