Scarlett Johansson has defended her decision to play a transgender man in new film Rub & Tug.
Earlier this week (beg02Jul18), Deadline reported that the actress would be reteaming with her Ghost in the Shell director Rupert Sanders for a movie about Jean Marie Gill, also known as Dante “Tex” Gill, a Pittsburgh crime kingpin and massage parlour owner who used a male identity.
Scarlett’s casting in the role received instant backlash from a number of social media users, but in a statement issued via her representative to Bustle on Wednesday, she dismissed any criticism.
“Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” she reportedly told the outlet.
Scarlett’s response refers to cisgender actors who have taken on transgender roles, with Jeffrey playing a transgender woman in TV show Transparent, Felicity portraying a transgender woman in 2005 film Transamerica and Jared Leto taking on the part of Rayon in 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club.
Among the comments on Twitter, many users noted that they would have liked to have seen a transgender person in the role.
“Literally the LEAST you could do when making a movie about trans people is to cast a trans person in the role that was written for them,” one user wrote on Twitter, while another added: “No offense to Scarlett Johansson but there are many beautiful trans women in the world, and I MEAN MANY…so ask Hollywood to keep looking!”
One of the people to criticise Scarlett’s casting in Rub & Tug was April Reign, the activist behind the #OscarsSoWhite campaign in 2015. She pointed out that the 33-year-old star was also accused of whitewashing her character in Ghost in the Shell, which was based on a Japanese manga figure.
“Scarlett Johansson received considerable backlash for Ghost in the Shell, when she played a whitewashed Asian character. The movie tanked. Undeterred, she has teamed up WITH THE SAME DIRECTOR to play a trans male character in Rub & Tug,” she wrote.
Scarlett is currently filming Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit and is also attached to star as Marvel character Black Widow in a standalone movie.
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