Scarlett Johansson defends decision to play transgender character

05 July, 2018, 09:54 | Author: Donna Miller
  • Scarlett Johansson Rupert Sanders

Scarlett Johansson is once again at the center of what is shaping up to be another casting controversy.

Scarlett Johansson has defended her decision to play a transgender man in new film Rub & Tug.

Directed by Rupert Sanders, the film is based on the life of Dante "Tex" Gill (to be played by Johansson), who ran an empire of massage parlors in Pittsburgh's underground sex industry in the 1970s.

Gill, born Lois Jean Gill, was a woman who lived as a man, wore men's clothing, and was in a long-term relationship with a woman, Cynthia Bruno.

This isn't the first time that Johansson has found herself embroiled in controversy over a casting, as there was also criticism of her casting as "The Major" in Sanders' Ghost in the Shell. Fans and fellow actors-including trans Sense8 star Jamie Clayton-were critical of Johansson's choice to accept the role, arguing that it took an opportunity away from a transgender actor.

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Tambor, Leto, and Huffman have all played trans characters across Amazon's Transparent series, Dallas Buyers Club, and Transamerica - and they've all received awards recognition for it, whether it was an Emmy win, an Oscar win, or an Oscar nomination.

When the website Bustle reached out to Johansson's representative for a statement about the vocal concerns, it was sent this response from the actress: "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment". Though critics said an Asian actress should play the part, Johansson later told "Good Morning America" that she believed the character was "essentially identity-less".

"Diversity is important in Hollywood", she continued, "and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive".

Among the comments on Twitter, many users noted that they would have liked to have seen a transgender person in the role.

One of the people to criticize Scarlett's casting in Rub & Tug was April Reign, the activist behind the #OscarsSoWhite campaign in 2015. "So why would she take work away from a trans actor?" Rub & Tug isn't your movie, ScarJo. She is also a well-established actress so she doesn't need the increased profile.

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