Scarlett Johansson has been slammed for playing a trans man in an upcoming movie
Scarlett Johansson is reportedly set to star in a film called Rub & Tug, playing a character based on real-life trans man, Dante "Tex" Gill. It will be directed by Rupert Sanders - the director behind Ghost in the Shell - a 2016 movie which incited vitriol for whitewashing the popular Japanese manga series, and also featured Johansson.
Dante "Tex" Gill, who was born Lois Jean Gill, was an infamous massage-parlour operator in Pittsburgh in the 70's and early 80's. Gill lived as a man after adopting typically masculine clothing and hairstyles. In fact - an obituary, which was printed back in 2003 in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette indicated that "she may even have undergone the initial stages of a sex change."
Johansson's casting has attracted criticism on the grounds that she is a cisgender woman playing a trans character. However, this is not the first time that this has happened in Hollywood - there's Hillary Swank in Boys Don't Cry, and more recently, Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club - two roles which also made the case for more accurate representation within the film industry.
"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," one Twitter user wrote on the subject, while another corroborated, "First the Japanese, and now Scarlett Johansson is taking on the trans community with her new film Rub and Tug. I can't wait until her Rosa Parks film comes out."
A third individual added "Well at least they got the ethnicity right this time, buuuuuuutttt / Shame there are no actual trans actors for hollywood to turn to for the role of Dante 'Tex' Gill...oh wait."
Johansson, who is one of the most bankable female actors in Hollywood right now, has since released a statement obtained by Bustle, via a representative, which reads "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."
The 33-year-old's assertion references other cisgender actors who have been critically lauded for their portrayals of transgender characters in recent years. Back in 2000, Hillary Swank won an Oscar for playing a transitioning female in Boys Don't Cry, and just five years later, Felicity Huffman portrayed a transgender man in Transamerica.
Jared Leto also won an Oscar for his performance as a transgender woman dying of AIDS in 2014's Dallas Buyer's Club, while Eddie Redmayne was nominated for playing transgender pioneer, Lili Elbe, in The Danish Girl.
Following the backlash that she received for starring in Ghost in the Shell, Johansson asserted that 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 said before defending her decision to star in the film. “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."