Scarlett Johansson has responded to a controversy brewing around the Avengers star’s latest movie role.
Deadline reported Monday that Johansson will play Dante “Tex” Gill, who was born Jean Marie Gill but identified as a man, in the mob drama Rub & Tug, helmed by her Ghost in the Shell director Rupert Sanders. Trans actors and advocates were quick to denounce the casting for both giving trans roles to cisgender actors and stealing “our narrative.”
On Tuesday, a representative for Johansson addressed the criticism in a statement obtained by Bustle, which said, “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 played trans characters across Amazon’s Transparent series, Dallas Buyers Club, and Transamerica — and they’ve all received awards recognition for it, whether it was an Emmy win, an Oscar win, or an Oscar nomination.
“Oh word?? So you can continue to play us but we can’t play y’all?” Transparent‘s Trace Lysette tweeted. “Hollywood is so f—ed… I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles, but we know that’s not the case. A mess.”
She added how cisgender actors “play us and steal our narrative and our opportunity,” but also “pat [themselves] on the back with trophies and accolades for mimicking what we have lived… so twisted. I’m so done…”
Sense8‘s Jamie Clayton echoed the struggle of trans actors trying to get the same opportunities as cisgender actors.
“Actors who are trans never even get to audition FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN ROLES OF TRANS CHARACTERS,” Clayton wrote. “THATS THE REAL ISSUE. WE CANT EVEN GET IN THE ROOM. Cast actors WHO ARE TRANS as NON TRANS CHARACTERS. I DARE YOU.”
Tambor, who was fired from Transparent over sexual misconduct claims that he has repeatedly denied, had previously used his platform to speak out in support of trans talent. “I just hope there are more opportunities for transgender talent,” he said during his 2016 Emmys speech. “I would very much like to be the last cisgender male playing a transgender female. I think we are there now.”
Johansson and Sanders had previously been at the center of a controversy surrounding Ghost in the Shell. The film, released last year, was accused of whitewashing when Johansson was seen playing the Major, a traditionally Japanese character in the anime source material.
Reps for Johansson and Sanders were not immediately available to respond to EW’s requests for further comment.