Scarlett Johansson is again at the center of a casting controversy, this time for accepting a role to play a transgender man.
She’s joining director Rupert Sanders to star in “Rub & Tug,” a film based on the true story of transgender massage parlor owner Dante “Tex” Gill, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety have reported. Sanders previously directed Johansson in 2017’s “Ghost in a Shell,” another controversial role, in which she starred as the Japanese manga character Major Motoko Kusanagi.
Johansson released a statement to Bustle via an unnamed representative: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”
For reference, those three cisgender actors played transgender characters in “Transparent,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Transamerica,” respectively.
Many on Twitter responded angrily, both to the initial casting and the statement to Bustle. The overwhelming consensus: Transgender characters should be played by transgender actors.
“Flippantly dismissing concerns over this new role really says a lot about her views regarding trans people,” wrote Charlotte Clymer, a communications staffer for the Human Rights Campaign.
Yeah, I'm gonna avoid Scarlett Johansson movies moving forward after her response. Even if this topic were complex (and it's not: trans people should play trans people), flippantly dismissing concerns over this new role really says a lot about her views regarding trans people.
— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) July 3, 2018
This is Dante 'Tex' Gill, who Scarlett Johansson is playing in a new movie.
So basically, ScarJo was cast to play Murray Hill.
I am so confused. pic.twitter.com/LmnVfAWBeK
— Mary Emily O’Hara (@MaryEmilyOHara) July 3, 2018
You’re making a movie about a fat, Trans man who was a crime boss and Scarlett Johansson is the first name that comes to mind? Really? https://t.co/P3Vnb91HRp
— @red3blog (@red3blog) July 3, 2018
Jamie Clayton (“Sense8”) reminded what it’s like being a transgender actress in Hollywood: “Actors who are trans never even get to audition FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN ROLES OF TRANS CHARACTERS,” she wrote.
Actors who are trans never even get to audition FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN ROLES OF TRANS CHARACTERS. THATS THE REAL ISSUE. WE CANT EVEN GET IN THE ROOM. Cast actors WHO ARE TRANS as NON TRANS CHARACTERS. I DARE YOU #RupertSanders @NewRegency #ScarlettJohansson https://t.co/RkrW8MeGcG
— Jamie Clayton (@MsJamieClayton) July 4, 2018
Scarlett Johansson has proven time again that she is not much of an ally when it gets in the way of her personal advancement. I hope this new movie will be rewarded in the same way as GitS – mediocre reviews and a box office failure.
— Hanna Ines Flint (@HannaFlint) July 3, 2018
In a March 2017 interview with Marie Claire, Johansson acknowledged the controversy surrounding her “Ghost in the Shell” casting.
“Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive,” she said.