Scarlett Johansson is clearly still feeling some type of way about the swift backlash to her controversial casting last summer as a transgender man, Dante “Tex” Gill, in the film Rub & Tug.
“Today there’s a lot of emphasis and conversation about what acting is and who we want to see represent ourselves on screen,” Johansson says in a new cover story for As If magazine. “You know, as an actor I should be able to play any person, or any tree, or any animal, because that’s my job and the requirements of my job.”
“There are a lot of social lines being drawn now, and a lot of political correctness is being reflected in art,” the Avengers: Endgame star adds. “I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons, yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions. I think society would be more connected if we just allowed others to have their own feelings and not expect everyone to feel the way we do.”
Johansson, Hollywood’s highest-paid actress, also came under fire for whitewashing the Japanese lead character in the 2017 film Ghost in the Shell.
She ultimately “decided to respectfully withdraw” from the Rub & Tug role amid much criticism from LGBTQ actors and activists, including Sense8’s Jamie Clayton and Transparent’s Trace Lysette, who called her out on taking an opportunity away from a trans actor.
I will not be seeing any films that involve Scarlett Johansson moving forward. I do not want to give my money to someone who trivializes the oppression of trans people and diminishes the importance of our visibility.
— Charlotte Clymer️ (@cmclymer) July 13, 2019
“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,” Johansson said in a statement. “I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly.”
Johansson had initially addressed the casting controversy with a callous statement referencing other cis actors who took trans roles: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”