Scarlett Johansson will no longer play a transgender character in upcoming movie Rub and Tug following complaints from left-wing LGBT activists.
“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,” Johansson announced. “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,” she continued. “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,” the actress concluded. “We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Johansson received an “immediate online backlash” after it was revealed that she would play a transgender character.
“The majority of online commenters argued that the role should have gone to a trans performer,” they reported, adding that transgender actor Trace Lysette was among those who criticized the casting choice.
The outrage over the casting of Johansson marks a significant turn fo Hollywood. In 2006, actress Felicity Huffman was nominated for an Oscar for playing a transgender character in the movie Transamerica.
This week, writer Daniella Greenbaum resigned from Business Insider after her article defending Johansson’s casting was removed following complaints.
“I criticized those who suggested that she was doing anything nefarious by taking this job… Apparently, that radical view — that actors should be free to act — is beyond the pale of acceptable opinion, as just a few hours after it went up, the piece was erased from the site following a campaign against me,” explained Greenbaum in an open letter following her resignation. “I wish I could say I’m surprised.”
Greenbaum then added that “the capitulation on the part of those who are supposed to be the adults to the mob” is a “pattern happening all over the country within institutions that pride themselves on open-mindedness and liberalism.”