Scarlett Johansson Backs Out of Transgender Role in ‘Rub and Tug’ Amid Backlash

Scarlett Johansson

Withdraws from Trans Movie Amid Backlash

7/13/2018 11:57 AM PDT

Scarlett Johansson has decided to back out of the film “Rub and Tug” after receiving some serious criticism for taking the role of the lead character … who is a transgender person.

Johansson tells “Out” magazine … “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.”

She adds … “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.”

Scarlett admits she would have loved to play the role of Dante, but understands why people were upset by her being cast and feel he should be played by a transgender person.

This is a pretty big reversal from when the controversy first broke a couple of weeks ago, and her rep suggested it was unfair to blast Johansson for taking the role when other actors — like Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman — had played trans characters … to critical acclaim.

“Rub and Tug” is the story of Dante “Tex” Gill, who was born a woman but identified as a man and ran a prostitution ring out of his massage parlor in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s unclear at this time how production will be affected by Johansson’s exit.