Last year, owing to widespread criticism, Scarlett Johansson withdrew from playing the lead role in a based-on-a-true-story mob drama called Rub & Tub,owing to the fact that she, a cisgender woman, was set to portray Dante “Tex” Gill, a transmasculine man. This backlash echoed another casting choice made by the actress a year prior, when she played the lead in Ghost in the Shell,a sci-fi film based on a popular Japanese manga and anime. Johansson has mostly stayed quiet in the aftermath of the respective casting brouhahas, but now, in a new interviewwith As If magazine, she admitted she isn’t thrilled that “political correctness” is policing what actors can and can’t do while choosing roles.
“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,” Johansson explained. “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.” She added about political correctness specifically: “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.”
While Johansson previously defined her Ghost in the Shell role as “essentially identity-less” upon the film’s release, she was initially dismissive of the pleas to give her Rub & Tug role to a trans actor, saying to critics, “tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” (The trio have all previously played trans women in film and television.) When Johansson eventually withdrew from the film, she offered an apology for her “insensitive” words.