Scarlett Johansson has responded to a controversy brewing around the Avengers star's latest movie role.
"Look, I've really liked Scarlett Johansson in some of her films, but I think the actor playing a trans man should BE a trans man if at all possible", one person tweeted, adding that the actress "seems to need to learn that not ALL roles belong to her".
It was announced yesterday that the 33-year-old is to take on the role of Dante "Tex" Gill in the movie Rub & Tug, who ran several mob-connected massage parlours in 1970s Pittsburgh, to be directed by Rupert Sanders.
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"Gill was born Jean Marie Gill, and though it is unclear if he identified as transgender, The Hollywood Reporter noted that an obituary in his local newspaper reported Gill "[insisted] that she was a man".
Following the criticism, Johansson released a statement obtained by Bustle, via a rep which read: "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment". In real life, Gill lived his life as a trans man, which led a lot of folks to inquire why a trans actor wasn't considered for this role.
All three actors have played transgender characters, Tambor in Transparent, Leto in Dallas Buyers Club and Huffman in Transamerica.
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Johansson addressed the backlash in a 2017 interview with Maire Claire and said that she "certainly would never presume to play another race of a person". Though critics said an Asian actress should play the part, Johansson later told "Good Morning America" that she believed the character was "essentially identity-less". "So why would she take work away from a trans actor?"
This isn't the first time that Johansson has found herself embroiled in controversy over a casting, as there was also criticism of her casting as "The Major" in Sanders' Ghost in the Shell.
After news broke that the actress is slated to play a transgender character in the film "Rub & Tug", critics immediately flocked to Twitter to express their disapproval of Johannson's new role.
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"Diversity is important in Hollywood", she continued, "and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive".