Scarlett Johansson believes she might have "mishandled" the backlash surrounding her Rub & Tug casting. In 2018, Johansson was cast as transgender man Dante "Tex" Gill. Tex became infamous in 1970s Pittsburgh for operating massage parlors that offered a lot more than massages. However, the LGBTQ community was pretty angry with the studio's choice of hiring a cisgender woman to play Tex in the movie, which is based on a true story. Johansson later exited the project and was not happy about it.
"You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job," said Scarlett Johansson after she left Rub & Tug. However, it was Scarrlett Johansson's original Transgender comments about the situation that caused a major uproar. "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment," Johansson replied when asked about the backlash surrounding her casting as Dante "Tex" Gill.
The LGBTQ community was less than thrilled with Scarlett Johansson's reaction to the situation, which differed drastically from her thoughts on Rub & Tug when it was originally announced she'd be taking on the role. "I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues," said Johansson in her initial statement. Now, the actress is reflecting on that time and believes she could have handled the whole thing a lot differently. Johansson explains.
"In hindsight, I mishandled that situation. I was not sensitive, my initial reaction to it. I wasn't totally aware of how the trans community felt about those three actors playing-and how they felt in general about cis actors playing-transgender people. I wasn't aware of that conversation-I was uneducated. So I learned a lot through that process. I misjudged that.... It was a hard time. It was like a whirlwind. I felt terribly about it. To feel like you're kind of tone-deaf to something is not a good feeling."
Rub & Tug appears to be still in limbo at the moment. Scarlett Johansson later said that she was "thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film." While that's all well and good, the uproar surrounding the project has stalled the whole operation to where it's unclear if the movie will ever see the light of day.
Scarlett Johansson recently wrapped production of the standalone Black Widow movie and is looking forward to Marvel Cinematic Universe fans being able to see it next year. The movie will be the first entry in the MCU's massive Phase 4, which will also include projects on the small screen for the first time, thanks to the Disney+ streaming platform. The interview with Johansson was originally conducted by Vanity Fair.