Scarlett Johansson pulls out of playing a trans character in ‘Rub & Tug’

The World Premiere of Marvel Studios “Avengers: Infinity War”

A few weeks ago, Scarlett Johansson was cast as a transgender man in Rub & Tug, the true story of Dante “Tex” Gill, who ran a massage parlor in ‘70s Pittsburgh. As soon as Scarlett’s casting was announced, everyone was like “seriously, do we need a cisgendered actress to play this role?” The casting announcement was bad enough, especially coming on the heels of the horrific Ghost in the Shell nonsense, where Scarlett lied about playing a Japanese character. But then Scarlett doubled down and arrogantly defended her casting by releasing this statement: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” As in, those are cisgendered actors who played trans characters and Scarlett wanted to do it too, damn it. So, long story short, Scarlett was canceled far and wide and so now she’s pulling out of Rub & Tug. She released a 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.”

[From Out Magazine]

That’s as close as we’ll ever get to Scarlett full-on admitting that she made a terrible mistake and that she compounded that mistake by issuing a tone-deaf statement in her own defense. The only thing I’ll say in Scarlett’s defense is that she’s right that trans issues have moved very quickly into public discourse, and that it is legitimately difficult (sometimes) to keep up with the conversations happening now. That being said, I feel like if you’re an cisgendered actress taking a role of a trans man, you should perhaps acquaint yourself with those conversations before even breathing a word of it publicly.

So what lead role will ScarJo sign on to next? Your choices:
The Gandhi reboot
Aung San Suu Kyi bio-pic
A film adaptation of The Bluest Eye

Avengers: Infinity War Premiere

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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45 Responses to “Scarlett Johansson pulls out of playing a trans character in ‘Rub & Tug’”

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  1. Tw says:

    She’s just an asshole, no? Plain and simple. And she looks terrible with short hair. That’s all I’ve got.

  2. Belluga says:

    She’s got a clashing commitment. The film’s called “The Wheels on the Bus” and Scarlett will be taking on the leading role of Rosa Parks.

  3. grabbyhands says:

    God she’s annoying.

    She manages to make it sound like she was innocently cast with no real idea of the impact of such a role (wasn’t she producing this? Pretty sure no one “cast” her) and like she’s taking credit for advancing the conversation on trans actors single handedly at the same time.

    The bottom line is, she knew what was the story was and knew then that a trans actor should have told this tale but wanted a chance at an Oscar more and obviously thought it was a lock, hence the initial arrogant response. The only reason she’s issued this statement is damage control.

    I’ll start believing she’s sincere when she stops taking whitewash roles.

  4. Mia4s says:

    OK we all know she didn’t write that statement and probably hated having to put it out right? Good.

    Actually from the timing of it with a director just being hired for the Black Widow stand-alone I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if a brief phone call came from Marvel first to “fix this…now”.

    • Laura says:

      Agreed on all points. She didn’t write that and probably doesn’t understand why Marvel told her to fix it. Ug, I used to love her so much. Not anymore.

    • Kate says:

      I don’t know if there have been more apologies in the last year than usual or if I’m just paying attention to them more but either way I’m ready for them to start KIND OF sounding like they came from the person’s mouth who issued them and not from their publicist. You don’t have to cite statistics in your apology or take 127 words to indirectly say “I messed up, I’m sorry for initially being dismissive. I get it now and I’m withdrawing to allow a trans actor the opportunity to play this role.”

  5. Queenb says:

    She will play all the Thai boys from the cave.

  6. Gaby says:

    Funny how she is an “ally, looking forward to working with every community” but intead of using her production company and fame to PRODUCE this with an actual trans actor, she is simply pulling out of the film, and I am pretty sure it will never happen now. Just because she can’t be the lead.

    If it was awards that she was after, there are Producer’s and Supporting actress’ Oscar awards too.

    • Renee says:

      This is a really good point.

    • Neelyo says:

      oh totally. She could have still produced it, like Reese Witherspoon did after Fincher told her she wasn’t right for the lead in GONE GIRL.

      Instead Scarlett’s taking all of her marbles and going home.

    • Original T.C. says:

      Yeah, scraping the film all together instead of looking for a Trans actor to play the lead role pretty much tells you she only wanted to make the film as a vehicle for herself. She can still produce the film or take on a supporting role. Films like this only require support and funding. You can always cast an unknown with talent.

      Now we are going to have the notion of if you don’t allow the blonde White woman to play the lead of a minority than your film won’t get made. That’s terrible.

    • Sigh... says:

      “If it was awards that she was after, there are Producer’s and Supporting actress’ Oscar awards too.”

      Right?!? Lest we forget Mansplainin’ Damon swanning around to secure Lesser Perv Affleck’s awards season’s slam-dunks…

      “Moonlighting” was made with no (big) name, no budget and still took it’s awards season by storm. Pitt’s a better exec producer (Departed, 12 Years…, etc) than actor at this point. HEAVEN FORBID Johansson not be front-n-center as THE female force for a film or two (cuz now she BOMBS w/o the Marvel logo, despite being highly paid/recognizable).

    • WingKingdom says:

      This was how I read it, too, and why I think she did have a hand in writing the apology. It was all fine until she just had to throw in, “there are no movies with trans characters, and there was going to be because of me, and now there’s not because of you.”

    • Nikitak says:

      If this was reddit, I would gild this response. Beautifully put. Sit down, ScarJo, God.

    • magnoliarose says:

      Right? She only believed in the project if she could be the star. She didn’t care a bit about the quality of the story.

  7. Neelyo says:

    I can feel her eyes rolling behind every word in that statement. She must be so annoyed (I don’t think she has enough personality to be furious).

  8. Melania says:

    Scarlett Johansson is a mess. Too late, too little.

  9. SlightlyAnonny says:

    And of course it’s a total coincidence that she pulled out when Black Widow finally got a director. She’s not going to endanger Marvel money for a vanity Oscar bait film.

  10. Prettykrazee says:

    What does ‘withdraw my participation’ mean? So is she still producing the movie? Or since she is not in the leading role, she no longer wants to do it. She’s still too good to take a supporting role to make sure the movie gets made. It’s definitely wasn’t a passion project. She really wanted that Oscar and when the narrative became so toxic and she knew the Academy wouldn’t touch this movie, she backed out.

    I wonder if Disney had something to do with it? There are going to drop a hundred million + on The Black Widow movie. It found a director. Did Disney tell her to fix this immediately?

  11. JennyJazzhands says:

    Now I hate her smug first response even more. Who has to wait for backlash to do/say the right thing?

  12. lucy2 says:

    I’m glad she withdrew from the role, but I get the impression, based on her previous defense of it, that she really resents having to do so.
    As others have said, if she really wants to be an ally and get this story told on film, she can still produce it and use her fame to promote it, with an appropriate actor in the role.

  13. BrutalEthyl says:

    So, should gay actors not play straight roles anymore?

    • LooseSeal says:

      Willfully ignorant? Or straight up trolling?

    • LP says:

      You’re welcome to check out the previous post for an education in trans people and their rights. Troll.

      • lisa says:

        I’m with BrutalEthyl – this was very short-sighted for the trans community. ScarJo’s participation in the movie (despite her ignorant comments) would have brought awareness in a big way that they could never have dreamed of. I am from a theater background…yes, there are under-represented minorities in that world, as in all industries. We should (and will) make it right. But in the meantime, this is a short-term fix for what could have been a long-lasting uptick in awareness. And no, LP, no trans actor or other actor has the “right” to be cast in a film. Acting is not a human right.

      • magnoliarose says:

        The trans community doesn’t need a cisgender actor telling their stories. Why can’t you understand that? The trans community doesn’t need supposed allies like her.
        When a minority community doesn’t want to be represented by someone who isn’t part of their community then we should all listen and respect that. Period.

  14. cee says:

    Ok, so is she still producing the film? Is she still attached in any way or did she just kill the film because she couldn’t get her way?

  15. girl_ninja says:

    I don’t understand why she so arrogant and obnoxious.

  16. Pickle Rick says:

    On top of everything else problematic, this woman is a mediocre actor at best. I feel she would also not do justice to the character with her paper thin acting “talent” and that would also be a huge insult