Scarlett Johansson has decided to pull out of the film Rub & Tug after her casting caused a large-scale controversy over the cisgender actress being tapped to play Dante “Tex” Gill, a transmasculine massage parlor owner. Johansson announced her departure to Out.
“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. “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.”
Johansson said she was “thankful” that the debate about her casting caused a larger conversation about representation of trans people in film. Johansson also cited recent statistics from LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD that showed that the number of LGBTQ+ characters in films dropped 40% in 2017.
Johansson previously stirred controversy when she was cast to play a Japanese woman in the Ghost in the Shell remake. Producers reportedly tested technology that would have made Johansson appear Asian rather than cast an Asian actress. The film flopped at the box office.
Johansson is not the only actor to be accused of transface recently. Matt Bomer received criticism for his portrayal of a trans woman in the film Anything.
INTO parodied the casting snafu with a video starring trans actors auditioning for Scarlett Johansson roles.