It’s being reported that Scarlett Johansson has chosen to no longer participate in the new film where she would play a transgender character.
In a revised statement, released today, the actress says:
In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project. Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues … While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film.
We figured things would work out in this matter. Too much momentum has already been generated moving trans performers to center stage. As we reported just moments ago, with Cassandra James landing a spot on General Hospital, with Alexandra Billings performing wonderfully as a judge on Goliath with the show Pose moving to its second season, the season of trans actors is at hand.
Scarlett is no idiot.
We love seeing things going positively in all directions. Being on the right side of history always feels better. Of course, the right side in this case is yielding such roles to those more apt to play them. Scarlett also isn’t struggling. With so many roles under her belt and with being the highest paid actress from 2014 – 2016, she certainly doesn’t need the money.
That said, there’s news that her decision was intentionally made to save her iconic role as Black Widow. At the time of this writing, Forbes is saying:
Even if we give Johansson the benefit of the doubt that she merely saw the true-life crime melodrama (think American Made) as a juicy role about a “tough woman” who assumed a male identity to succeed in a male-dominated arena, the outcry has been fast and furious: Tokyo drift. Speaking of Tokyo Drift, couple this with the controversy over her playing the lead in last year’s Ghost in the Shell adaptation, where she technically played a Japanese woman whose mind and soul were transported into the body of a white lady, and I imagine the actress decided it wasn’t worth it. There was little chance of Johansson scoring awards consideration or even much acclaim unless the movie turned out to be a stone-cold masterpiece. Even then, it would be hounded by the controversy which would have become the prime narrative around the otherwise run-of-the-mill studio programmer which would need positive media attention to survive alongside the tentpoles. Whether it would have made any money is an open question (Dallas Buyers Club, with a huge Oscar boost, earned $55m worldwide on a $5m budget in 2013/2014), but it wasn’t worth the possibility of doing PR-related damage to the Black Widow movie.
Frankly, we don’t care why she ditched the role. It was the right move.