Scarlett Johansson withdraws from transgender role in 'Rub and Tug' after backlash from queer community


Scarlett Johansson who recently was part of hit Marvel Avengers: Infinity Wars has been on the radar of quarrels lately. After having courted controversies for wearing Marchesa's (Harvey Weinstein's wife) outfit at the Met Gala this year, she again received backlash from people on Twitter and critics for not only accepting the role of Dante "Tex" Gill but also defending her casting, making the matter worse.

Director Rupert Sanders of Ghost in the Shell approached the three-time Golden Globe nominee to star in his next film. The story of the film was based on the real-life of massage parlour mogul, a trans man, Dante "Tex" Gill. He ran the popular "Rub & Tug" parlour but what makes it worthy was his association with the underground sex industry of Pittsburg in the '70s.


ScarJo who was excited to play the part received extreme backlash on Twitter, from critics and especially from the queer community who said it was insensitive to the LGBTQ+ people. The actress then went on to defend her casting by mentioning other cisgender actors who had played a trans role including Jeffery Tambor who played a trans woman in the web show Transparent.

Many transactors put forth their point and said that a trans person would not be cast to play a cisgender role and it should be so, even the other way around. While a few actors explained their point of view, many were aggressive in calling it out. Turns out, the entire controversy had Johansson thinking and she finally changed her mind.

Her statement reads, "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."

Appreciating the 'conversation' that took place as a part of the controversy she added, "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."

With Times Up, Me too and now this, Hollywood is surely getting its reality checks right.