After facing a major backlash from the audience and being criticised relentlessly over the past week, Scarlett Johannson has officially exited the movie, Rub & Tug on Friday. Scarlett was set to play the lead role in the movie, as a transgender man. The movie is based on a true story, focusing on the life of Dante Tex Gill who ran a ring of prostitution fronts.
In a statement to Out.com the Avengers actress said, “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.”
Johannson expressed her sadness over leaving the role but insisted that it was an important step so as to ensure a conversation on the subject should occur. “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,” she told Out.com.
However, this decision was made by Johannson after facing a severe backlash from the Trans community and the general audience alike. In response to the criticism, Johannson said,”Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” via her representative, which angered the critics further. The comment was harsh and ignorant of the plight and representation (or the lack thereof) of trans people in the industry.
Rupert Sanders is the director of Rub & Tug. This was not the first time Johannson and Sanders have faced such criticism. Previously the duo worked together on the American live-action adaptation of the fan favourite Ghost in the Shell which was met with similar criticism from the fans as Johannson played the role of a character who was Japenese in the anime.