Scarlett Johansson Leaves Trans Film After Backlash

She was cast in "Rub and Tug" a little more than week ago.

Scarlett Johansson
Actress Scarlett Johansson attends the premiere of Disney and Marvel's 'Avengers: Infinity War' on April 23, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Scarlett Johansson has decided to leave the drama film Rub and Tug a little more than a week after her casting sparked backlash amid trans groups and activists, reports Variety. 

“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 told Out Magazine, which first reported the news, in a statement. “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.”

She continued, saying she would have “loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life,” but that she understands why many think he should be portrayed by a transgender person. She went on to say that she is thankful the casting debate has sparked a larger conversation about “diversity and representation in film.”

“I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly,” Johansson said in the statement, according to Variety. “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.”

Rub and Tug tells the story of Dante “Tex” Gill, a crime kingpin who used his massage parlor as a front for prostitution. Gill was born Lois Jean Gill but identified as a man. Johansson’s casting sparked a social media outrage, with many pushing for a trans actor to play Gill instead. It is unclear where production stands on the film now that Johansson has exited.

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