Out magazine is reporting that Scarlett Johansson has exited Rub and Tug a little more than a week after her casting as transgender massage parlor owner Dante “Tex” Gill sparked backlash among transgender activists. Johansson was accused of “ciswashing.” Her initial response (about 10 or 11 days ago) to the protestors: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” But today she changed her tune.
“In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as [the late] Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project,” Johansson told Out. “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.”
“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.”