UPDATED 7/14, 6:30 p.m. ET: Scarlett Johansson addressed the backlash that emerged after her controversial interview, which she said was "edited for clickbait."
“An interview that was recently published has been edited for click bait and is widely taken out of context,” she said in a statement. “The question I was answering in my conversation with the contemporary artist, David Salle, was about the confrontation between political correctness and art."
Johansson went on to clarify the comments she made about representation and casting in Hollywood. “I personally feel that, in an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody and Art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness. That is the point I was making, albeit didn’t come across that way.”
She also said that she's fully aware that there is a "wide spread discrepancy" in Hollywood, that favors "Caucasian, cis gendered actors."
“I continue to support, and always have, diversity in every industry and will continue to fight for projects where everyone is included," she added.
See the original story below.
Scarlett Johansson wants to address the “political correctness” in casting.
In a new interview with As If magazine, Johansson addressed the landscape of the industry, not directly mentioning the backlash she received for landing a role as a trans character, but indirectly referencing it. Last year, Johansson was casted in Rub & Tug to play Dante “Tex” Gill, a massage parlor owner in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and ’80s who identified as a man. The criticisms came from trans actors who believed a cisgender woman shouldn’t play the role.
“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, adding, “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.”
On political correctness, she says, “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.”
Johansson issued a response to the initial backlash of her playing the role through a representative, telling Bustle that any questions “can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” All have portrayed trans characters on film and in television.
Johansson respectfully withdrew from the project after much consideration, issuing a statement to Out magazine:
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. 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.
According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40 percent in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release. While 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. I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly.
My production company, These Pictures, actively pursues projects that both entertain and push boundaries. We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.
The future of Rub & Tug remains unclear. The film is set to be directed by Rupert Sanders.