Scarlett Johansson responds to backlash after landing transgender role in new film

The actress will play the lead in the upcoming movie 'Rub & Tug'

Scarlett Johansson has responded to the backlash which has met the news that she has been cast in a transgender role in the forthcoming film Rub & Tug.

Johansson is set to play Lois Jean Gill in the movie, which is based on Gill’s true life story. Gill was assigned female at birth, but later assumed the identity of a man – Dante “Tex” Gill – and operated a massage parlour and prostitution business in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and 80s. Gill was later convicted of tax evasion in 1984, spending seven years in prison. He died in 2003.

Johansson’s latest role will see her reunite with Ghost In The Shell director Rupert Sanders. That film courted controversy over accusations of “whitewashing”, with Johansson playing Major Motoko Kusanagi in the manga and anime-inspired movie.

The news of Johansson’s casting as Gill has been met with protests, with online commentators arguing that the role should have gone to an actual transgender actor – see a selection of the responses to her casting below.

In an statement obtained by Bustle, Johanssson said via her representative: “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

That statement – which references prominent actors who have played transgender roles – appears to have further fueled the backlash against her casting in Rub & Tug.

Johansson last appeared in Avengers: Infinity War, in which she reprised her role as Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow. She will appear in the as-yet-untitled fourth Avengers movie, due for release next year.