Scarlett Johansson Drops Out Of Transgender Role After Intense Backlash

Scarlett Johansson has dropped out of the upcoming biographical drama Rub & Tug, following an intense internet backlash to the news that she was set to star in the role of a transgender man.

Many were vocally critical of the casting, with trans performers complaining that they seldom have the opportunity to try out for transgender roles in mainstream films.

At first, the actress waved away criticism of her casting, telling detractors to contact reps for “Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman“, all of whom previously played trans roles.

As criticism continued, however, her stance changed, and overnight, Scarlett Johansson released a lengthy statement announcing that she would no longer be taking part in the film.

She told Out magazine:

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.

Rub & Tug would have paired Scarlett Johansson with her Ghost In The Shell director Rupert Sanders. She also faced backlash for that film, after being cast in the role of a Japanese woman.

She is still set to star in Marvel‘s Black Widow, which will be directed by Aussie Cate Shortland, and will be the studio’s second female-focused film, following next year’s Captain Marvel.