Scarlett Johansson has stepped down from her role in Rub & Tug after online backlash.
Johansson was cast as the lead role in the Rupert Sanders film, which tells the true story of Dante 'Tex' Gill, a trans man in 1970s Pittsburg who became one of the city's most infamous crime bosses after running brothels disguised as massage parlours.
LGBT activists and groups hit out at the movie for casting Johansson over a trans actor. However, the Avengers star fiercely defended her role in the film, name-checking other cisgender Hollywood stars who have taken on transgender roles over the years.
Now, however, Johansson has confirmed in a statement to OUT magazine that she has stepped down from the film.
Dante 'Tex' Gill died in 2003 at the age of 72
She said: “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 realise it was insensitive.”
She added: “I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.
“According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release.”
The actress then shared her hopes that the role will be recast with a trans actor, saying: “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.
“I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly. My production company, These Pictures, actively pursues projects that both entertain and push boundaries.”
She added: “We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.”