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Scarlett Johansson exits trans man role in ‘Rub & Tug’

Scarlett Johansson exits trans man role in ‘Rub & Tug’
Scarlett Johansson at the Met Gala in May 2018.
Scarlett Johansson at the Met Gala in May 2018.

Image: Noam Galai / Getty Images for New York Magazine

Scarlett Johansson is rethinking some things.

The actress has dropped out of the upcoming project Rub & Tug, following heavy criticism for her casting as a trans 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,” she wrote to Out.

“While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante‚Äôs 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.”

As of now, there’s no word on whether the project will move forward with a new star, or whether it’s being tabled entirely.

Johansson had been set to play Dante “Tex” Gill, a real-life figure who commanded an empire of massage parlors in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and 1980s, in a film directed by Ghost in the Shell‘s Rupert Sanders.

News of Johansson’s involvement sparked immediate outcry, with detractors pointing out that casting cis people as trans characters not only perpetuates harmful beliefs about trans people, but serves to erase actual trans people from trans narratives.

Initially, Johansson dismissed the criticism. “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” she said in a statement to Bustle last week.

Apparently, though, she’s had some second thoughts since then. Maybe she’s learned some things. Or maybe she’s just decided she doesn’t need to go through another round of Ghost in the Shell-type controversy. Maybe it’s both.

In any case, stepping down was probably the right call.

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