Scarlett Johansson Exits 'Rub & Tug' Following Backlash Over Playing Transgender Character
Scarlett Johansson is backing out of Rub & Tug.
The 33-year-old actress has decided to forgo the Rupert Sanders-directed mob drama after receiving major backlash for accepting the role, in which she would portray Dante "Tex" Gill, a transgender man who owns a Pittsburgh massage parlor.
"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," Johansson said in a statement to Out on Friday. "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," the statement continued. "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."
Johansson concluded the statement by stating she believes that all artists should be considered "equally and fairly."
"My production company, These Pictures, actively pursues projects that both entertain and push boundaries," she explained. "We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide."
The original statement Johansson referred to was given to Bustle via her rep: "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment."
ET has reached out to Johansson's rep for comment.
This isn't the first time Johansson has received backlash for a film role. The New York City native was also criticized for playing an originally Asian animated character, The Major, in 2017's live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, which was also directed by Sanders.
Ahead of the movie's premiere, Johansson told ET that she had her "fingers crossed" fans would accept the film. Hear more from the exclusive chat in the video below.
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