Scarlett Johansson Has 'Decided to Respectfully Withdraw' From Trans Man's Biopic

Lewis Collier
July 14, 2018

Scarlett Johansson has made a decision to exit the lead role of Rub & Tug, the film from director Rupert Sanders that would have seen the Avengers star playing trans man Dante "Tex" Gill.

When Johansson's role was announced, many took to social media to complain, calling the casting tone deaf and arguing that a trans actor should be given the opportunity to tell the story.

After the backlash, Johansson first issued a statement through her representatives that was lambasted as tone-deaf.

However, she ended up changing her mind, and released a statement to, where she stated that she had "decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project".

Rub & Tug will tell the story of Jean Marie Gill, who was assigned female at birth but who assumed the identity of a man, Dante "Tex" Gill. With Rub & Tug, Johansson was set to re-team with director Rupert Sanders, who had helmed the similarly polarizing Ghost in the Shell (which faced accusations of whitewashing).

"It's hard to imagine people having the same reaction in other scenarios - a rich actor being hired to play a poor person; an actor whose real-life parents were still living being hired to play an orphan", wrote Greenbaum.

'I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly.

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A week into the casting backlash, Johansson has pulled out of "Rub & Tug".

Sanders and Johansson both previously came under fire when they were accused of "white-washing" in the 2017 adaptation of "Ghost in the Shell", with Johansson playing a role that many expected to go to an Asian actress.

Citing a 2017 report from GLAAD, Johansson noted that the representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) characters has signficantly dropped in recent years.

Deadline reported Johansson is a producer on the $30 million film, which is "a co-production between Silver Pictures, [Tobey] Maguire's Material Pictures and Johansson's These Pictures banners".

Johansson continues while adding that her production company wants to keep pushing boundary-pushing projects such as this one, and she provides no further detail on who shall replace her in the role.

This week, writer Daniella Greenbaum resigned from Business Insider after her article defending Johansson's casting was removed following complaints. "We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide".

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