Scarlett Johansson has been cast as a transgender man in upcoming film 'Rub & Tug.'

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Scarlett Johansson gets cast as trans man, and the internet is like ‘WTF?’ (updated)

Didn't she learn anything from 'Ghost in the Shell'?


Brittany Vincent


Posted on Jul 3, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 11:57 am CDT

Scarlett Johansson has been tapped to play the lead role of a transgender man named Dante “Tex” Gill in the upcoming film Rub & Tug, directed by Ghost in the Shell’s Rupert Sanders. Let that sink in for a moment, because it’s a cocktail of awful.

ScarJo has been cast as the lead role for Sanders’ upcoming drama, ScreenCrush reports, based on Gill’s real-life trials and tribulations as the owner of a massage parlor in Pittsburgh back in the ’70s.

The film draws on Gill’s experiences as the ringleader for various massage parlors that were integral parts of a prostitution ring. He ended up going to federal prison after a fruitful career—and some pretty wild happenings—at the forefront of the operation.

The issue isn’t with the story itself but the fact that Gill, a transgender man, will be portrayed by Johansson, a cisgender woman. Worse still, she’s being billed as playing a “woman who dressed like a man,” according to outlets like Deadline and the Hollywood Reporter.

Johansson appears to have learned nothing from her time with director Sanders after the whitewashing controversy and other problematic content that riddled Ghost in the Shell (not to mention that it was an awful movie). The internet is understandably taking major issue with the Rub & Tug casting choice.

Seriously, Hollywood. Explain yourself.

It’s hard to wrap our heads around why Johansson would accept the role to begin with. Perhaps the film is still early enough in its casting rounds to hire an actual transgender actor to portray Gill, which would be fantastic (but we won’t get our hopes up).

Either way, this is the question director Sanders should have asked before calling up ScarJo.

Update 4:06pm CT, July 3Scarlett Johansson issued a statement on Tuesday responding to criticism over her being cast as Dante “Tex” Gill in upcoming film Rub & Tug, Bustle reports.

A representative reportedly delivered this dismissive comment on Johansson’s behalf: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”


H/T ScreenCrush

Share this article
*First Published: Jul 3, 2018, 3:52 pm CDT