Scarlett Johansson has quit upcoming film Rub & Tug, after anger at her casting as a transgender man.
The Avengers star sparked outrage this month by agreeing to take on the role of real-life trans man Dante ‘Tex’ Gill in Rub & Tug.
LGBT activists had hit out at the film for casting the Hollywood star instead of a transgender actor, given the lack of opportunities for trans stars.
Johansson was initially defensive of the film, telling people upset by the decision to contact Jeffrey Tambor and Jared Leto – both of whom also controversially played trans people on screen – for comment.
However the actress has now confirmed that she will step back from the project.
In a statement to Out magazine, she said: “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.
“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 realise it was insensitive.”
She added: “I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.
“According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release.”
Johansson added her backing to the role being recast with a transgender actor, saying: “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.
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“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.”
Transgender actress Trace Lysette previously revealed she had received death threats for criticising the casting of Johansson.
Lysette, who stars in groundbreaking TV show Transparent, had complained that “Hollywood is so f**ked,” calling the current situation over casting trans roles “a mess” and “so twisted.”
But just hours later, the actress – whose stand against co-star Jeffrey Tambor’s alleged sexual abuse of her led to Tambor’s exit from the show – reported that her tweets had been met with hate and abuse.
“Death threats for being trans and speaking my mind… nothing new.”
Sense8 star Jamie Clayton, who is transgender, had also criticised the casting.
Clayon had said: “Actors who are trans never even get to audition FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN ROLES OF TRANS CHARACTERS. THATS THE REAL ISSUE.
“WE CANT EVEN GET IN THE ROOM. Cast actors WHO ARE TRANS as NON TRANS CHARACTERS. I DARE YOU.”