AceShowbiz - Scarlett Johansson has exited her new film Rub & Tug following the outcry surrounding her role as the transgender owner of a massage parlor.
The Avengers star signed on to portray real-life Pennsylvania crime boss Dante Gill, aka Lois Jean Gill, in director Rupert Sanders' movie, prompting leaders of America's transgender community to make it clear they were not fans of her casting.
The actress responded to the backlash via her publicist, who defended her decision to play a transgender man on the big screen by referring to other cisgender actors who did the same.
A statement read: "Tell them (critics) that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."
Jeffrey played a transgender woman in TV show Transparent, while Felicity portrayed a transgender woman in 2005 film Transamerica, and Jared Leto took on the Oscar-winning part of Rayon in 2013's Dallas Buyers Club.
But activists and transgender supporters wouldn't bow down, suggesting the role should go to a real transgender person.
One of the people criticising Scarlett's casting in Rub & Tug was April Reign, the activist behind the #OscarsSoWhite campaign in 2015. She pointed out that the 33-year-old star was also accused of 'whitewashing' her character in another Sanders film, Ghost in the Shell, which was based on a Japanese manga series.
"Scarlett Johansson received considerable backlash for Ghost in the Shell, when she played a whitewashed Asian character. The movie tanked. Undeterred, she has teamed up WITH THE SAME DIRECTOR to play a trans male character in Rub & Tug," Reign wrote.
Scarlett Johansson received considerable backlash for Ghost in the Shell, when she played a whitewashed Asian character. The movie tanked.— April (@ReignOfApril) 3 July 2018
Undeterred, she has teamed up WITH THE SAME DIRECTOR to play a trans male character in Rub & Tug. When asked to comment, she said: pic.twitter.com/ftgGREncHa
And now it seems the backlash has prompted Scarlett to rethink the role, telling Out.com in a statement: "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."