Scarlett Johansson drops out of transgender role in 'Rub And Tug'

Scarlett Johansson will no longer star in “Rub and Tug,” an upcoming film about transgender massage parlor owner Dante “Tex” Gil, after swift backlash followed the announcement of her casting. 

The “Avengers: Infinity War” actress released an exclusive statement to Out Magazine on Friday, announcing her decision to pull out from the controversial project.

“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,” she wrote in the statement. “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.”

Upon news of her casting, representatives to Johansson initially dismissed the backlash by referencing other performers, including somewhat confusingly Jeffery Tambor, an actor accused of sexual misconduct by a transgender woman, who’ve played transgender roles in the past. 

15 PHOTOS
Scarlett Johansson at the 2018 Met Gala
See Gallery
Scarlett Johansson at the 2018 Met Gala
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Scarlett Johansson attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Scarlett Johansson and Chris Jost attend the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Scarlett Johansson attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Scarlett Johansson attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Scarlett Johansson attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Scarlett Johansson attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/FilmMagic)
Scarlett Johansson arrive for the 2018 Met Gala on May 7, 2018, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. - The Gala raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Costume Institute. The Gala's 2018 theme is Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. (Photo by Angela WEISS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Colin Jost and Scarlett Johansson attend 'Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & the Catholic Imagination', the 2018 Costume Institute Benefit, at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
Scarlett Johansson (L) and Colin Jost arrive for the 2018 Met Gala on May 7, 2018, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. - The Gala raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Costume Institute. The Gala's 2018 theme is Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. (Photo by Angela WEISS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Scarlett Johansson attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost attend the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/MG18/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Scarlett Johansson (L) and Colin Jost attend the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/MG18/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Scarlett Johansson attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Scarlett Johansson attends Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Karwai Tang/Karwai Tang/Getty Images)
Scarlett Johansson arrives for the 2018 Met Gala on May 7, 2018, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. - The Gala raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Costume Institute. The Gala's 2018 theme is Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

“Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” her representative told multiple news outlets in a statement at the time.

Johansson has seemingly had a change of heart, writing that she has “great admiration and love for the trans community” and expressed gratitude that her casting has resulted in a conversation about inclusivity in Hollywood. 

“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,” she continued in her statement on Friday. “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,” she added.

Rupert Sanders, who helmed Johansson in another much-derided project “Ghost in the Shell,” was set to direct the feature. There’s no word yet regarding who will replace Johansson or if trans actors are being considered for the role. 

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
Read Full Story