Scarlett Johansson is reuniting with Ghost in the Shell director Rupert Sanders for Rub & Tug, a massage parlor drama based on the insane real-life story of Jean Marie Gill. The movie is being compared to American Hustle and was subject to a bidding war between more than five studios, with New Regency ultimately winning out. Production is slated to begin in February with a production budget of more than $30 million. It's doubtful that you're familiar with the story of Jean Marie Gill, but it sounds like this could be a memorable performance from Johansson, if the movie lives up to the potential that lies in her story.
Jean Marie Gill rose to prominence in the 1970s and became the crime kingpin of Pittsburgh. She took on the mob and managed to claim her power via her empire of illicit massage parlors. Hence the title Rub and Tug, which may actually underscore a bit of the real drama at play. Gill also was in charge of an anabolic steroids ring that helped fuel the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL dynasty. The craziest part? She did this all while cross-dressing and basically taking on the physical identity of a man, which helped her become such a dominant figure. She relied heavily on her allies in the gay community to help grow her illegal business.
The real-life Jean Marie Gill passed away in 1987 at the age of 72. She was a former blacksmith. At one point, The Pittsburgh Press awarded Gill the "Dubious man of the Year" and "Dubious woman Of The Year." One of the more tense and dramatic moments during her reign as a crime kingpin came when one of her employees at a massage parlor was killed after she opened a letter bomb. Another one of her parlors was burned down in a suspicious fire. Law enforcement took her down in 1984 on income tax fraud.
Despite all of this craziness and drama, it's said that the story will center its emotional core on Gill's romance with her girlfriend Cynthia. The role of Cynthia has yet to be cast. Gary Spinelli (American Made) wrote the script. Joel Silver, Tobey Maguire, Scarlett Johansson, Matthew Plouffe, Gary Spinelli and Jonathan Lia are on board to produce, with Hal Sadoff Ethan Erwin, Sarah Meyer, Richard Weinberg, and Brendan Koerner executive producing.
Rupert Wyatt and Scarlett Johansson's previous collaboration, Ghost in the Shell, disappointed fans and underperformed at the box office, but apparently they liked working with one another enough to give it another go. Johansson is also attached to produce and star in a solo Black Widow movie for Marvel. It's possible that Marvel Studios could finish putting the project together while Johansson films Rub and Tug, allowing her to then move on to Black Widow afterward. Rub and Tug doesn't yet have a release date. Though, this does sound like it could have some awards potential, depening on how the final product comes out. This news comes to us courtesy of Deadline.