According to a recent report, Johansson has decided to turn down her role in the new Rupert Sanders film, Rub and Tug, due to the overwhelming backlash she received regarding her choice to play the part of Dante “Tex” Gill, a transgender man.
The transgender community and its allies expressed outrage over yet another cisgender actor being cast as a transgender character. Johansson’s initial statement only added fuel to the fire, as she did not understand why people were so upset. “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” she had said.
Today, the actress announced that she has now turned down the role and released a statement to Out.com.
"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,” reads her new 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. 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."
Many are hoping this will send a message to Hollywood directors to re-think the way transgender characters are cast.