Amid continuing criticism over actress Scarlett Johansson’s decision to play a transgender character in Rub & Tug, a group of transgender male actors worked on a parody video showing them auditioning for the actresses’s old roles. Produced by the queer digital magazine INTO, the clip features D’Lo, Justin Chow, Scott Turner Schofield and Rocco Kayiatos trying out for the roles of several female characters, including Rebecca in Ghost World (2001), Samantha in Her (2013), Anna in He’s Just Not That Into You (2009) and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in the Avengers movies. The video descriptor says, “What if trans men got cast in the few roles that are made for trans men?”
Earlier this month, Johansson was confirmed as the lead for Sanders’s crime drama centred on Pittsburgh resident Dante “Tex” Gill, who operated massage parlours that served as fronts for prostitution in the 1970s. Gill was assigned female at birth, but is believed to have identified as a man. The decision to cast cisgender (who identify with the sex they are assigned at birth) actors for transgender roles has elicited criticism in recent years, amid growing awareness about transgender rights.
“Actors who are trans never even get to audition for anything other than roles of trans characters,” trans actress Jamie Clayton wrote about the row over Johansson. “That’s the real issue. We can’t even get in the room. Cast actors who are trans as non trans characters. I dare you.”
Johansson’s representative earlier defended her casting in a comment to Bustle, asking those protesting the decision to ask “Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment”. All three actors received glowing reviews and awards for their performances as transgender women in film and television, even though there was some criticism over their casting. Tambor won an Emmy award for his role in the Amazon series Transparent, Leto won an Academy Award for Dallas Buyers’ Club (2013) and Huffman was nominated for an Oscar for Transamerica (2005).