Scarlett Johansson Gave An Incredibly Insensitive Response To Criticism Of Her Latest Role

Johansson is under fire for playing a famous trans man.

Scarlett Johansson

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Off the back of controversy regarding the ‘whitewashing’ in her role in last year’s live-action remake of Japanese anime classic Ghost In The Shell, Scarlett Johansson has now stood by plans to play a transgender mob character.

Last week, Johansson and Ghost In The Shell director Rupert Sanders announced they’d be teaming up again for Rub & Tug, a film based on the life of Dante ‘Tex’ Gill, a shadowy trans-masculine figure of 1970s Pittsburg, whose massage parlour served as a front for sex work.

A 2003 obituary of Gill, noted that he “[insisted] that she was a man and telling everyone she wanted to be known as ‘Mr. Gill.’”

According to Deadline, the film will reimagine Dante as Jean Marie Gill, a woman who cross-dressed as a man in order to pass through Pittsburg’s crime syndicates.

The announcement received criticism online, as people voiced concern that the film was replacing Gill’s gender identity with Mrs. Doubtfire-esque shenanigans. Johansson’s casting just added insult to injury, then a statement from her representatives did even more damage.

When approached for comment on the controversy, Johannson’s representatives gave Bustle a short, fiery statement: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

All three actors have previously played a trans character to critical acclaim. In 2015, Tambor won a Golden Globe for Transparent, while Leto and Huffman respectively won and were nominated an Academy Award for their roles in Dallas Buyer’s Club and Transamerica.

Each have also all have since expressed regret for taking their roles, and have expressed support for trans representation by trans people.

And Johannson’s comment is particularly striking given Tambor’s recent firing from Transparent amid multiple allegations of harassment and bullying.

Johannson has made a series of controversial comments and creative choices in the past few years.

Beyond defending her role in Ghost In The Shell, she has repeatedly backed Woody Allen, and in 2014, said she had “no regrets” for working with Soda Stream, an Israeli company that at the time had manufacturing facilities on the highly contested West Bank.

Rug & Tug is slated to start production in February 2019.