Image: Screenshot of Scarlett Johansson Dolce Gabbana The One Ad YouTube
After initially defending her casting as a transgender man in the upcoming film Rub & Tug, Scarlett Johansson has now “respectfully” withdrawn from the project.
Johansson came under fire for accepting the role of real-life trans man Dante “Tex” Gill in the mob drama and the initial statement she released to Bustle magazine defended the casting and showed her insensitivity towards the struggles transgender actors face in Hollywood.
“Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” the statement read.
Two of the most high profile trans actresses today, Trace Lysette and Jamie Clayton, expressed their outrage at Johansson's casting on Twitter.
Lysette, best known for her work on Transparent, wrote “I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles,” she wrote. “But we know that’s not the case. A mess.”
Clayton, who worked on Sense8, wrote “Actors who are trans never even get to audition FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN ROLES OF TRANS CHARACTERS. 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."
On Friday, Johansson released a far more sensitive statement to Out magazine.
"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.”
“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."