Scarlett Johansson has withdrawn from Rub & Tug following criticism of her casting as the film’s trans man protagonist.
In an exclusive statement to Out, she writes:
“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.”
As part of that “insensitive” first statement, a representative for Johansson defended her casting, directing critics “to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” This was a pretty tone-deaf response, considering how all three of those actors drew similar criticism for their award-winning portrayals of trans characters, not to mention the fact that Jeffrey Tambor has been accused of sexually assaulting two of the trans women he worked with on Transparent.
Johansson’s statement continues:
“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.”