Scarlett Johansson says she ‘mishandled’ controversy over transgender role in ‘Rub & Tug’

Scarlett Johansson says she “mishandled” a recent controversy over her decision to play a transgender man in a movie.

The actor told Vanity Fair in a new interview that her reaction at the time lacked sensitivity.

It emerged last year that Johansson had been cast to play the lead role in Rub & Tug, a film based on the life of Dante “Tex” Gill, a trans massage parlour owner in Pittsburgh.

The casting announcement was met with backlash from people who felt that the role should have gone to a transgender actor instead of Johansson.

Johansson initially said in a statement: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment” – referencing three actors who have portrayed transgender people. The actor later put out a lengthier statement saying she had exited the movie. 

“In hindsight, I mishandled that situation,” she told Vanity Fair in her latest interview.

“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.”

When the interviewer pointed out that people might link Johansson’s comments on tone-deafness to her defence of Woody Allen, she added: ​“Yes, they will,” she says. “It feels like a snake eating its tail, doesn’t it?”

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