UPDATE: A new statement from Scarlett Johansson has been added to the bottom of the original article.
A year after Avengers: Endgame star Scarlett Johannson dropped out of the lead role in Rub and Tug, a proposed biopic of the transgender crime kingpin Dante “Tex” Gill, the actress is finally speaking her mind about the controversy. In an interview with As If magazine, which was initially picked up by the Daily Mail and spread by other outlets on Saturday, Johansson seemingly lamented the charged climate of political correctness.
“You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job,” she said, according to Vulture:
“I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons, yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions… I think society would be more connected if we just allowed others to have their own feelings and not expect everyone to feel the way we do.”
The Rub and Tug casting, which many critics felt was problematic due to the fact that Gill was transgender but Johannson is not, came on the heels of the actress’s film Ghost in the Shell, which was criticized as a white-washed adaptation of the Japanese manga series. So when Johannson initially responded to the controversy with a reference to performers Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman, all of whom have played transgender characters in television and film. As relevant as this comment was, however, many felt that Johansson’s reps had missed the point.