Exclusive: Scarlett Johansson Withdraws From Rub & Tug

scarlett

After drawing intense criticism for accepting a role in the movie Rub & Tug, by her Ghost in the Shell director Rupert Sanders, Scarlett Johansson has withdrawn from the movie, she told Out in an exclusive statement today. “I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues,” she said. “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.”

Johansson had originally defended her position by pointing to other cisgender actors who had played trans, including Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent, but her statement makes clear that she’s had a change of heart. Among those who had been critical of her decision was the transgender actress Trace Lysette, who has worked on Amazon's Transparent, and who wrote, "I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles, but we know that’s not the case."

GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis welcomed Johansson's decision as a "game changer," while the transgender writer and actor Jen Richards tweeted, “To exhibit the spirit of generosity I earnestly want to see more of, I am going to take Scarlett Johansson at her word that she listened to feedback, realized that despite her intentions this was going to cause harm, and made the right decision to step down. Well done.”

Read the rest of Johansson’s statement below:

"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. According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release. 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. We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide."

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