The actress was set to play the role of crime kingpin Dante “Tex” Gill, who was born Lois Jean Gill but identified as a man. He used his massage parlors as a front for prostitution in 1970s Pittsburgh.
“In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project,” Johansson said in a statement to Out magazine. “Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive.”
Additionally, her statement hints at a greater awareness of what the casting meant to many in the community and industry.
“I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues,” she said. “According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release.”
She continued, “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. I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly. My production company, These Pictures, actively pursues projects that both entertain and push boundaries. We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.”
Previously, Scarlett Johansson also received negative feedback for The Ghost in the Shell remake, as it was hit with accusations of whitewashing since Johansson was cast as the film’s cyborg protagonist, who was named Motoko Kusanagi in the original Japanese anime and manga series.
Now, in case you missed it, read our exclusive op-ed surrounding Scarlett Johansson’s controversial casting as a transgender man.