Rub and Tug: Johansson Exits Trans Film Due to Casting Backlash

Scarlett Johansson has exited the film Rub and Tug, a week after her casting sparked backlash amid trans groups and activists.

“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 told Out magazine, which first reported the news, in a statement.

Rub and Tug focuses on Dante “Tex” Gill, a crime kingpin who used his massage parlor as a front for prostitution in the 1970s and 1980s. Gill was born Lois Jean Gill, but identified as a man.

“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,” the statement continues. “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.”

New Regency won an auction for the movie, set to be directed by Rupert Sanders, who previously worked with Johansson on “Ghost in the Shell.”

 

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