Recently actress Scarlett Johansson has found herself in the middle of yet another controversy. Johansson had accepted a role in an upcoming movie titled Rub & Tug, which has nothing to do with the 2002 Canadian movie of the same name. Instead this new movie is supposed to be based on the real life of the gangster Dante “Tex” Gill, a trans man. During his criminal career Tex owned an operated massage parlors, that secretly functioned as brothels, which is why his biopic is titled Rub & Tug.
When it was announced that Johansson, a cis woman, had been cast to play a trans man it stirred up a lot of controversy. Many critics complained that Johansson was taking work away from trans actors, and that only a trans actor would be able to do the role justice. The issues surrounding the casting are of course a lot deeper than these problems. In response to the all the backlash Johansson has decided to drop out of the movie entirely.
Johansson was also criticized for a statement, which can be seen here, but now the actress claims that her words had been taken out of context. While her wish that every actor should be given the chance to pursue any role they want does seem noble, it can seem pretty tasteless when actors of color and LGBTQ actors are constantly being overlooked by studios. Johansson has also released a new statement acknowledging that not everyone has the same privileges that she has.
Rub & Tug was supposed to be directed by Rupert Sanders, who had previously worked with Johansson on the controversial Ghost in the Shell, but as of right now it looks like production on Rub & Tug has been halted. Apparently Johansson’s involvement was the reason the project was being funded in the first place. Without a big name like Johansson’s attached to the project the studio has lost its confidence in Rub & Tug. Right now it looks like Rub & Tug will not be going to theaters after all with or without a trans person in the lead.