Scarlett Johansson Issues Statement About Rub & Tug Casting Backlash

Scarlett Johansson. Photo: Frazer Harrison/FilmMagic

News broke yesterday that Scarlett Johansson would be re-teaming with her Ghost in the Shell director Rupert Sanders for the movie Rub & Tug, about a Pittsburgh-based crime boss who was known for mob feuds and running a string of massage parlors that doubled as prostitution hubs during the 1970s and ‘80s. The star of that story is Dante “Tex” Gill, born Jean Gill, who was described in his 2003 obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as “insisting that she was a man and telling everyone she wanted to be known as ‘Mr. Gill.’” Ire against the casting choice started online, calling out Johansson — a cisgender woman — for seemingly taking on the role of a transmasculine man. (In addition to using male pronouns, Gill also dressed in a masculine style.) Johansson has now responded to the anger through a representative in a brief statement to Bustle: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

Tambor, Leto, and Huffman have all previously played trans women on film and television. There is not much information readily available about Gill, but he was additionally described by his cousin, a film critic at the time for the Post-Gazette, which ran his obituary, as “an anomaly for her day, someone who had to hide her sexuality as a single woman in the transgender community, which at the time was so underground it had yet to acquire that label.” It was also speculated that Gill “may even have undergone the initial stages of a sex change that made her appear masculine.”

Rub & Tug Casting Backlash: Scarlett Johansson Responds