Scarlett Johansson has pulled out of the film "Rub & Tug" after her plans to portray a transgender man prompted a backlash.
In a statement to Out.com on Friday, Johansson says she's withdrawing from the project "in light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting." Last week, Johansson said she would star as prostitution ring leader Dante "Tex" Gill, who was born Lois Jean Gill but identified as a man.
"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," Johansson said in ther statement. "I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly."
When transgender actors and advocates questioned the casting, Johansson initially responded with a statement that criticism "can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman's reps." All are actors who won acclaim for playing transgender characters.
Johansson previously came under fire for playing an originally Asian character in the 2017 film "Ghost in the Shell." Rupert Sanders, who helmed that movie, is the director of "Rub & Tug."