Scarlett Johansson has decided to walk away from Rub & Tug – a biopic on a massage parlour mogul. The movie team courted controversy when they cast Scarlett in the role of Dante ‘Tex’ Gill, a trans male who ran a prostitution ring out of massage parlours. The decision to cast her in the lead role drew a lot of criticism from the LGBTQ community.
In an exclusive interview with Out, Johansson explained her decision to quit the project.
“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.”
LGBTQ characters have dropped by 40 per cent in 2017, and there has been no representation of trans characters in major releases last year, the actor said. Scarlett also said that she would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story to life, but nonetheless understands why some may feel that such a character needs to be portrayed by a transgender person.
“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,” she said.
The film is directed by Rupert Sanders. If Scarlett had went on with the filming, this would’ve been their second film together. Interestingly, their previous film – Ghost In The Shell was heavily criticised for casting Scarlett as the female lead. The source material for the movie has a Japanese character as the lead.