Actress Trace Lysette reportedly received death threats after speaking out against Scarlett Johansson for playing a transgender man in an upcoming movie.
When it was announced that the 33-year-old would be playing trans crime boss Dante “Tex” Gill in the biopic Rub & Tug, the Transparent actress was one of the leading voices blasting the decision on Twitter. Calling the controversy a “mess,” Lysette pointed out that while cisgender people are cast as trans characters in films like Dallas Buyers Club and The Danish Girl, trans actors are rarely given the opportunity to read for the same parts as cis folks.
“So you can continue to play us, but we can’t play y’all?” she asked. “Hollywood is so f***ed. I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles, but we know that’s not the case.”
Jamie Clayton, who played a trans hacktivist in the Netflix series Sense8, agreed with Lysette’s take.
“Actors who are trans never even get to audition for anything other than roles of trans characters,” Clayton said on Tuesday. “That’s the real issue. We can’t even get in the room. Cast actors who are trans as non trans characters. I dare you.”
Now Lysette has claimed that Johansson’s critics are feeling the blowback after coming forward to protest the film. She wrote in a tweet posted over the Independence Day holiday that trolls on Twitter were threatening to kill her for “being trans and speaking [her] mind,” remarking that the phenomenon is “nothing new.”
Johansson has yet to respond to the threats and is unlikely to.
When asked for comment about concerns among members of the trans community of her involvement in Rub & Tug, she told the feminist website Bustle (through a media representative) that critics “can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” Each of these actors has won a prestigious award—an Emmy, Oscar, and Golden Globe, respectively—for playing a transgender person.
Her statement neglects to mention that Lysette was one of three actresses that accused Tambor of sexual misconduct during his time on Amazon’s Transparent. He would be fired from the show as a result.
This isn’t the first time Johansson has encountered criticism for playing a person of a different identity than her own. The four-time Golden Globe nominee was accused of whitewashing for her roles in films like Isle of Dogs and Ghost in the Shell, the latter of which casts her as a Japanese woman whose brain has been inserted into a white woman’s body. Rub & Tug reteams her with the director of that film, Rupert Sanders.
INTO has reached out to Johansson for comment and will update the piece should she respond.