Despite insisting that she should be able to “play any person, or any tree, or any animal,” Scarlett Johansson has finally admitted that she may have mishandled the controversy over being cast as a trans man.
Johansson was heavily criticized when it was announced she’d been cast to play Dante ‘Tex’ Gill, a transgender man, in the film Rub & Tug. While she eventually stepped down from the role, she later defended her right to play identities outside her own experience — something she’d already done in Ghost in the Shell, in which she played an Asian character.
“I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons,” she told As If magazine at the time, “yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions.” Prior to that, she told critics to reach out to “Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” referring to other cisgender actors who had played trans characters in the past.
But in a new interview with Vanity Fair, the actress admitted she “mishandled the situation.” She admitted, “I was not sensitive, my initial reaction to it. I wasn’t totally aware of how the trans community felt about those three actors playing — and how they felt in general about cis actors playing — transgender people.”
“I wasn’t aware of that conversation — I was uneducated,” Johansson added. “So I learned a lot through that process. I misjudged that… It was a hard time. It was like a whirlwind. I felt terribly about it. To feel like you’re kind of tone-deaf to something is not a good feeling.”
Still no apology for the tree community, though!
Despite having changed her views on playing trans characters, Johansson still supports her friend Woody Allen, who has been accused of sexual abuse by his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow. Johansson has defended Allen repeatedly and did so again in the Vanity Fair interview. “I’m not a politician, and I can’t lie about the way I feel about things,” she said. “I feel the way I feel about it... It’s my experience. I don’t know any more than any other person knows. I only have a close proximity with Woody… He’s a friend of mine. But I have no other insight other than my relationship with him.”
When interviewer Chris Heath mentioned that Johansson’s comment about not wanting to come across as tone-deaf could be applied to the Allen situation as well, she said it “feels like a snake eating its tail, doesn’t it?”
Oh, so she thinks she can play a snake now, too? Not appropriate.