Scarlett Johansson drops out of transgender role in Rub & Tug following backlash


In a move that shocks nobody, Scarlett Johansson has officially pulled out of the transgender role that fueled a massive backlash.

It didn’t take long, but Scarlett Johansson has pulled out the film Rub & Tug following backlash over the role being a transgender man. Johansson was set to play Dante “Tex” Gill in the film inspired by the real-life Gill. Gill was assigned female at birth but identified as male, and ran a string of massage parlors that were fronts for prostitution dens in the 1970s and ’80s.

Following the casting announcement on July 2, there was an immediate backlash against the project and Johansson from critics and trans advocates. The decision to cast a cisgender woman to play a transgender man came under fire, and Johansson did nothing to extinguish the flames.

Instead, the next day, Bustle reported that a rep for Johansson had a statement from the actress, which said, “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

People were shocked by the tone-deaf statement, especially after Johansson already came under fire for appearing in a white-washed Japanese role in Ghost in the Shell in 2017. Oddly enough Rub & Tug was set to be directed by the same man Johansson worked with on that film, Rupert Sanders.

“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,” said Johansson in a statement released today to

Read Johansson’s full statement below:

"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. 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. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues. According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release. 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. 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."

Next: Don’t just blame Scarlett Johansson, blame Hollywood too

There is no word yet on whether the movie will move forward with a trans actor. Hopefully, Sanders and New Regency learned their lesson by casting Johansson in the first place.