Scarlett Johansson will be replaced with trans actor for TV series 'Rug & Tug'

Johansson initially defended her decision to play trans man Dante ‘Tex’ Gill but left the film following criticism from the LGBT+ community.


Rub and Tug, a film which initially cast Scarlett Johansson to play a trans character, has announced that the movie will now become a TV series and will cast a trans actor.

Scarlett Johansson came under fire last year for saying she “should be allowed to play any person” after quitting the trans character role. The world’s highest-paid actress left the film Rub and Tug to be directed by Rupert Sanders following criticism from the LGBT+ community.

Johansson was set to play the role of trans man Dante ‘Tex’ Gill who operated massage parlours that served as fronts for prostitution in 1970s Pittsburgh.

Following the Johansson controversy, the film ceased pre-production but is now returning as a TV series with Pose and Transparent producer Our Lady J signed to write a pilot for New Regency Television.

Our Lady J told Deadline: “Tex’s life story is like no other, and the rich landscape of this unexplored moment in time has truly captured my imagination.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to write a gangster drama based on such a fascinating and diverse web of queer characters.

“The show is about the promise of reinvention and the peril of losing oneself in the process. Tex Gill was out and proud in an era – the late 1970s – when living authentically came with the price of social ostracisation, leaving him vulnerable to a life of crime and lawlessness.

“Having grown up in Pennsylvania myself, I’m also excited to delve deep into Pittsburgh’s underbelly as it unspools the story of Tex’s remarkable life – it’s also the story of a city’s struggle for rebirth and a proud community’s efforts to make its voice heard.”

Nick Adams of GLAAD said: “Industry leaders are hearing, and even joining, the call to hire talented and experienced transgender storytellers like Our Lady J to tell trans stories. Authentic trans stories are compelling and largely untold, and when told well they attract acclaim from audiences, critics and award shows, as we’ve seen with Pose and A Fantastic Woman.”

It was also announced that Tex’s widow Cindy Bruno Gill is a consultant on the TV show.

She said: “I am excited to be working with Our Lady J and New Regency to honour Tex’s memory by telling his story the way he would want to be remembered.

“Tex was transgender at a time when being transgender meant facing great discrimination, yet he was fearless about being himself in a way that inspired those who knew him to be proud of who they were too. Our Lady J is the perfect person to give voice to Tex’s story, and I know he would be proud of the evolution of this project.”

Billy Eichner describes Hollywood as “so hypocritical” of its treatment of LGBT+ actors

Billy Eichner has opened up about his experience as a gay actor in Hollywood. Speaking to Deadline about LGBT+ representation in film and television, he said coming out of the closet presents many challenges to LGBT+ actors.

“What’s happened is that, when someone comes out of the closet, we celebrate them,” Eichner said in the article, published Tuesday. “We applaud them. We put them on the cover of magazines. We say, thank you for living your truth, and thank you for being brave, and you’re such a role model for our gay kids. And then instantly, that actor gets taken off so many casting lists in the business.

“There is no gay Tom Hanks in this country,” Eichner said. “There is no gay Will Ferrell. There’s no gay Steve Carell. There’s no gay Paul Rudd. There’s no gay Kevin Hart. There’s no gay Will Smith. The list goes on and on, and that’s not a coincidence. After a hundred years of making films, it’s not a coincidence. It’s not that they just haven’t been able to find the right gay man, who has enough talent to have a career like that.”

The Lion King star described Hollywood as “so hypocritical” of its treatment of LGBT+ actors and said they need to step up in telling LGBT+ stories with LGBT+ actors.

“It’s like, we’re so liberal, and we’re so tolerant, and we’re so accepting,” Eichner continued. “OK, then, where are your movies that centre gay characters with gay actors? They don’t exist.

“We have the lived-in experience, to bring the intellectual nuance of it to the screen,” he said. “I don’t have to go sit with 30 gay people and try to find out what it’s like to be gay. I know, and no one knows better than me and my friends. I think we need to stop undervaluing that, the feeling that if a gay person plays a gay person it’s not acting but if a straight person plays a gay person, we give them an Oscar.”

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