Scarlett Johansson regrets the way she handled the drama surrounding her casting in Rupert Sanders’ film Rub & Tug.
The Avengers actress accepted the role as transgender gangster Dante ‘Tex’ Gill but subsequently stepped away from the project after she was criticised for taking the part from a real transgender actor.
Johansson originally responded to the backlash by defending her casting and pointing to other cisgender actors, like Jared Leto, Felicity Huffman, and Jeffrey Tambor, who have played trans characters on film and TV, but in a new cover interview with Vanity Fair magazine, she admitted her handling of the controversy was a mistake.
“In hindsight, I mishandled that situation,” she said. “I was not sensitive, my initial reaction to it. I wasn’t totally aware of how the trans community felt about those three actors playing – and how they felt in general about cis actors playing – transgender people. I wasn’t aware of that conversation. I was uneducated.
“I learned a lot through that process. I misjudged that. It was a hard time. It was like a whirlwind. I felt terribly about it. To feel like you’re kind of tone-deaf to something is not a good feeling.”
Johansson quit Sanders’ film in July, 2018, telling Out Magazine, “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 realise it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.”
It wasn’t the first time Johansson and Sanders caused a stir with a casting decision – they were accused of whitewashing 2017’s Ghost in the Shell, a film in which she tackled a role originally created as an Asian character.
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