About a year ago, a new film was being cast called Rub and Tug. The film was going to tell the story of a Dante “Tex” Gill, a (possibly) transgender gangster and massage parlor owner who threw a cake at an undercover cop and rose to prominence in the 1970’s in Pennsylvania. The film, at the time, gained a huge swell of interest from the average movie goer when it was learned that Scarlett Johansson was cast as Dante Gill himself, and because the internet is a thing, an actress was forced out of a role because it didn’t look good to have the highest paid actress in the world playing a transgender male.
Fan backlash is always a thing that is going to happen, but Johansson got hit hard in rapid succession for her involvement in the film Ghost in the Shell, as well as Rub and Tug.
Anyway, long story short, Scarlett Johansson is no longer playing Gill and the film is now in something of a production limbo as a result of her exit. Over the past year, Johansson has seemingly been silent over the whole debacle, until a recent interview with As if magazine (via the daily mail).
“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,” – Scarlett Johansson
While she didn’t mention the film Rub and Tug specifically, Johansson makes a good point; it shouldn’t matter who is cast in a role in a movie. Would it have made more sense to cast a transgendered male actor to play this part? Maybe. Would it have been more true to a character that is transgender to cast a transgender actor who could draw from their own experience to give a great performance? Possibly.
Was it a good idea to cast the highest paid actress in the world who is a multiple award winner? Yes.
Look, we have no idea what the casting process for this film was like. No one outside of the studio knows. Perhaps Johansson was the best person for the job. But that doesn’t fit the narrative of inclusivity that Hollywood is trying to monetize. And the LGBT community’s handling of this situation, the bullying, name calling and the shallow calling to arms seems to fly in the face of everything that their movement stands for.
Actors act, that’s their job. For all the freedoms the internet affords us, we do not have the right to tell people how to do their job. No matter who it is. You have no right to tell an actor what to do with their careers. The hilarious thing is, is since this movie has stalled, I looked up Dante Gill and found his story to be incredibly engaging. Imagine if a movie with, arguably, the most popular actress in the world played this character…imagine the interest it would have garnered in his story. Too bad that may never happen now.