Scarlett Johansson was all set to play a transgender man Dante "Tex" Gill, who owned a string of massage parlours in Pittsburgh that were fronts for prostitution in the 1970s and 1980s, in a film about his life. However, the actress has decided to drop out of the film. Reason? The decision has come after her casting drew criticism from the LGBTQ community. Her casting came at a moment when the LGBTQ community and allies are encouraging the casting of transgender actors in transgender roles.
After the immediate backlash to Johannson's casting began, the actress issued a statement to Bustle, but that didn't go down well with many as it was criticized for its dismissive nature. Scarlett pointed to other actors who have taken on transgender roles. "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment," she said in this statement.
However, in her new statement to Out.com, Johansson acknowledges her mistake. "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," she said adding that, "I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues."
"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," read her statement further.Those who were against her playing a trans man on the screen are happy:
I’m glad that trans voices were heard and I am so glad that #ScarlettJohansson took the road she should have taken and not accepted a role that should have been given to a trans actor. 🏳️🌈 https://t.co/oyl5xU49QY
— generation cuppy 💊 (@cupofwater03) July 13, 2018
GOOD. Too bad it was not her idea to refuse the role in the first place. As a woman in Hollywood, she should fight to ensure fair casting and opportunity for minorities is a priority! #ScarlettJohansson #filmlife #ActressLife #casting https://t.co/SliSz9PvMJ
— Michelle Elise Shock (@MichelleEliseGO) July 14, 2018
— Rayanna Dennill (@DennillRayanna) July 14, 2018
— Ian Harvie (@ianharvie) July 14, 2018
But there is also a set of people, who think that one doesn't have to be a trans to play a trans in a film
People should not have any problem with #ScarlettJohansson playing a trans man in a movie
You should not have to be gay to play a gay actor, straight to play a straight actor, Jewish to play a Jewish actor, or Christian to play a Christian actor.
PC BS at its finest...— Libertarian-In-Chief (@ToddHagopian) July 14, 2018
Scarlett Johansson can play any character, I don't care. If she plays a trans man, fine. As a trans person myself (female to male) I have no problem with it. Leave her be, guys, it's just a film role. #ScarlettJohansson
— Basil (@RazzberryBaz) July 4, 2018
Leave Scarlett Johansson alone already. It’s called ACTING. She will be ACTING in a role as a trans man. I understand the need for diversity in all aspects of the film industry (and beyond) but let’s remember, at the end of the day, she’s ACTING. #ScarlettJohansson #ACTING
— Komyar Nasseri (@KomyarNasseri) July 4, 2018
This is not the first time that Johansson has found herself in the middle of a casting controversy. Her casting in the film Ghost In The Shell (based on a popular Japanese manga series), in which she played a character that was originally written as Asian. Her casting in the movie back then prompted accusations of white-washing. However, the film went ahead as planned and was released in 2017.
#ScarlettJohansson should not have surrendered to the mob. A sad loss for reason, a victory for the worshipers of tribalism.
— Michael Johnson (@M_Johnson2018) July 13, 2018