Scarlett Johansson has resigned from her controversial role in the upcoming film "Rub & Tug." (Image via W Magazine)

Scarlett Johansson’s Backed Out of Playing a Transgender Man, Thankfully

But the larger question still remains: What completely inappropriate role will she try out for next?

Thoughts x

But the larger question still remains: What completely inappropriate role will she try out for next?

Is Scarlett Johansson aware that she is a cis, straight, white woman? Maybe not.

Johansson initially faced harsh criticism last year after starring in “Ghost in the Shell,” a film based on a Japanese manga series. She was cast as the main character, Major Motoko Kusanagi, and critics rightfully claimed that the decision whitewashed the Japanese franchise.

More recently, Johansson took on the lead role in “Rub & Tug,” an upcoming New Regency biopic based on the life of Dante “Tex” Gill, a massage parlor boss. Gill was a transgender man; however, instead of casting a transgender actor for the part, the film’s team chose Johansson. Let me repeat: Johansson is a cis, straight, white woman being cast in roles not meant for her.

Backlash against her casting was harsh and warranted.

Twitter user and comedian @faithchoyce gave a voice to the collective opinion of many, tweeting “Scarlett Johansson is playing a trans man in her next movie because her ultimate career goal is to take an acting job from a member of each and every marginalized group.”

Transgender actresses Jamie Clayton and Trace Lysette launched their own — extremely personal — tirades against Johansson.

“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.”

“Oh word?? So you can continue to play us but we can’t play y’all? Hollywood is so f—–… I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles, but we know that’s not the case. A mess.”

Johansson’s original response to the criticism was that a cis, straight actor playing a transgender character was not unprecedented. “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” Johansson argued via her publicist.

However, it seems that the actress has since changed her tune. Johansson resigned from the film and has since issued a statement to Out. “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,” she said, “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.”

It is unclear whether Johansson resigning from the project will halt filming altogether, but, if not, Hollywood should consider some actual transgender actors for the part of a transgender man.

Why not Elliot Foster, who has appeared in “The Fosters” and “Shameless”? Or Ellie Desautels, a nonbinary actor from NBC’s “Rise”? Or Ian Harvie, a comedian who appeared on “Transparent” and “Mistresses”? Casting choices are varied and numerous; what matters is that trans actors are not sidelined and railroaded.

The next time a film in production needs to cast a character, regardless of whether they are a member of the LGBTQ community or a person of color, the casting team would be wise to pick from the brilliant array of talent available to them instead of hiring someone unfit for the role.

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