Actress Scarlett Johansson is once again under fire for a casting controversy after she accepted a role as a transgender man in the upcoming film Rug & Tug. Johansson will recount the true story of Jean Marie Gil, who was born a woman before identifying herself as a man. Under the name Dante “Tex” Gill, she operated a massage parlor and prostitution ring in Pittsburgh in the 1970s. However, the decision to give Johansson the role has caused anger among gender activists who claim the role should have been given to a real transgender man.
In a statement provided to Bustle, Johansson downplayed the controversy and referenced other actors who have played the roles of transgender characters. “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” she said.
This is not the first time Johansson has come under fire for accepting a role, she was also the subject of scrutiny after she was cast in last year’s Ghost In The Shell which many believe that role should have gone to an Asian actress.
Johansson known for her progressive activism on such issues as abortion and her resistance to President Trump, responded to the Ghost criticism in an interview with Marie Clare, where she claimed she “certainly would never presume to play another race of a person.”
“Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive,” she explained. “Also, having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity. Certainly, I feel the enormous pressure of that — the weight of such a big property on my shoulders.”