Scarlett Johansson leaves trans role following backlash

ABC/Heidi Gutman(LOS ANGELES) — Scarlett Johansson has apologized and announced she will no longer play a trans character in a drama called Rub and Tug, following backlash that a trans actor wasn’t filling the role. 

The film follows the real-life story of Dante “Tex” Gill, who ran a massage parlor and prostitution ring in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and ’80s.

Johansson had initially been defensive about the static the casting news received, noting to the website Bustle via her rep that criticism, “can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” The comment referred to other cis-gendered performers who have played trans characters.

The actress, who was criticized for playing a traditionally Asian character in Rupert Sanders’ 2017 film Ghost in the Shell, has now relented, releasing a statement to Out magazine. “In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting,” she said in part, “I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project.”

ScarJo continued, “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.”

Including stats about the representation of trans characters in film declining, Johansson added, “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.”

The Marvel movie star added that as a producer, she looks, “forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.”

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