In a statement to Out.com Friday, Johnson, 33, said she had learned from the discussion and outcry that followed the July 2 casting news.
“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,” Johansson said in the statement. “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 realize it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.”
Johansson was set to join director Rupert Sanders in “Rub & Tug,” a film based on Gill’s true story. Sanders previously directed Johansson in 2017’s “Ghost in the Shell,” another controversial role, in which she starred as the Japanese manga character Major Motoko Kusanagi.
Initially, when outcry over Johansson ‘s role emerged on Twitter, the actress released a statement to website Bustle referring to other actors appearing in transgender roles from “Transparent,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Transamerica,”
“Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” Johansson said.
Johansson said in Friday’s statement, “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.”
Johansson’s rep did not respond to a request from USA TODAY.
The decision to the Johansson’s announcement led to applause from one-time critics.
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the LGTBQ media advocacy organization GLAAD, praised the decision in a statement:
“Scarlett Johansson’s announcement, together with the transgender voices who spoke out about this film, are game changers for the future of transgender images in Hollywood. Hollywood changed how Americans understand gay and lesbian lives, and TV is starting to do the same for transgender people with authentic transgender portrayals being major hits with critics and audiences. The film industry has a real opportunity to do the same.”