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Scarlett Johansson quits Pittsburgh-based ‘Rub & Tug’ film |

Scarlett Johansson quits Pittsburgh-based ‘Rub & Tug’ film

Tim Benz
| Friday, July 13, 2018 4:06 p.m
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Scarlett Johansson
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson movie hits on 1970s Steelers, steroid ring
Ten days ago we told you about a new Pittsburgh-based movie starring Scarlett Johansson. Well forget it. She has decided to back out of the...

Ten days ago we told you about a new Pittsburgh-based movie starring Scarlett Johansson.

Well forget it. She has decided to back out of the project.

The movie is entitled “Rub & Tug.” Johansson was supposed to play Dante “Tex” Gill. Gill was renowned for running a ring of Pittsburgh massage parlors that were thinly veiled fronts for prostitution.

Born a woman in Pittsburgh, Lois Jean Gill always posed as a man. In fact, it was believed by some that she may have started the initial stages of a sex change at some point in her life.

Gill also had connections to the alleged distribution of steroids to the Super Steelers of the 1970s.

But the production received backlash for casting Johansson in a role of a transgender person instead of an actual transgender performer.

Initially, Johansson’s representatives balked at the criticism. In fact they challenged the attacks by pointing out others who were not transgender, but who did play such roles.

Via the Huffington post, “’Tell them (those complaining) that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,’ her representative told multiple news outlets in a statement at the time.”

That was a reference to those actors and their award-winning performances in “Transparent”, “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Transamerica.”

But apparently the criticism resonated with Johansson to the point that she has decided to leave the project.

In a statement to “Out Magazine,” Johansson said, “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.”

“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.”

There’s no word yet on a replacement or whether or not the movie’s production will be canceled or delayed.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review sports columnist. You can contact Tim via Twitter .

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