Scarlett Johansson faces major backlash for portraying transgender man in upcoming film, and not giving a chance to actual transgender actors

by Saman Zahid

Scarlett Johansson has been cast for upcoming movie, Rub & Tug, for the lead role of a transgender man. This has resulted in severe backlash towards the actress as well as the casters, who are being accused of not considering transgender actors for the role.

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Scarlett Johansson attends the American Museum Of Natural History’s 2017 Museum Gala. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

The film tells the true story of Dante ‘Tex’ Gill, who ran a chain of massage parlors – that were in fact brothels – in Pittsburgh in the 1970s. Rub & Tug follows his life story as he transitions from female to male, and then dominates the world of prostitution and crime. Gill was born as Lois Jean Gill but lived as a man. He died in 2003.

Many took to Twitter to voice their opinions about the casting preferences.

Some came to the actress’s defense, saying it makes no sense that actors only play roles that represent their real-life social groups or orientations.

The actress has since responded to the barrage of critics with a short and dismissive statement. Bustle obtained a statement from her rep, saying, “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

This was in reference to actors and actresses who have played transgender roles in recent years, and have been critically acclaimed for the portrayals. Jared Leto played a transgender woman in the 2014 Dallas Buyer’s Club, and won an Oscar for his performance. Felicity Huffman played a transgender man in Transamerica. Others including Hilary Swank and Eddie Redmayne have also appeared in similar roles.

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Scarlett Johansson speaks during the Women’s March Los Angeles 2018 on January 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images)

Scarlett Johansson

She had a very dismissive response for all critics. (Photo by Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images)

Scarlett Johansson’s film choices have been similarly received in the past. Ghost in the Shell, also by the same director, Rupert Sanderswas met with similar criticism; the 33-year-old actress was cast to play a Japanese character, Asian soldier Mira Killian, and was widely bashed for ‘whitewashing’ for playing. At the time, the actress gave an interview to Marie Claire, saying she felt enormous pressure on her shoulders.

She said, “Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive. [However,] having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity.”

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She has been similarly criticized for a previous film. (Image source: Ghost in the Shell)

Rub & Tug is all set to go into production later this year and, along with Johansson, stars Tobey Maguire.



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