In July 2018, it was announced that Scarlett Johansson had been cast to play real-life trans crime boss Dante “Tex” Gill in a biopic called Rub & Tug, which was to be helmed by her Ghost in the Shell director, Rupert Sanders. The duo had just incurred backlash for whitewashing the lead Asian character in Ghost in the Shell, and this latest ScarJo casting news drew criticism from the trans community, as by 2018 the general sentiment toward casting cis actors in trans roles was “Please don’t.” Johansson responded to the backlash in Bustle, saying, “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” as if those depictions of trans people hadn’t also drawn criticism and ire from the trans community. So Johansson withdrew from the film. Now, two years later, Rub & Tug is moving forward as a television series written by trans television writer Our Lady J. Entertainment Weekly reports that Our Lady J, who has worked on Pose and Transparent, will write the pilot script and that the creative team “is committed to casting a trans actor as the show’s lead.” In a statement, Our Lady J, said:
“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to write a gangster drama based on such a fascinating and diverse web of queer characters. The show is about the promise of reinvention, and the peril of losing oneself in the process. Tex Gill was out and proud in an era — the late 1970s — when living authentically came with the price of social ostracization, leaving him vulnerable to a life of crime and lawlessness. Having grown up in Pennsylvania myself, I’m also excited to delve deep into Pittsburgh’s underbelly as it unspools the story of Tex’s remarkable life — it’s also the story of a city’s struggle for rebirth and a proud community’s efforts to make its voice heard.”
Tex Gill’s widow, Cindy Bruno Gill, who will serve as a consultant on the show, added in a statement, “Our Lady J is the perfect person to give voice to Tex’s story, and I know he would be proud of the evolution of this project.” New Regency, which developed Rub & Tug in its initial Johansson-heavy movie iteration, will produce this series.