Public Appearances > 2018 > November 11 – E! People’s Choice Awards
Scarlett Johansson reportedly vetoed funding from the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, for her next film.
The actor is set to play the Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario in a biopic directed by Ridley Scott, but when she found out the initial set of funders included Bin Salman, she rejected his involvement.
“Scarlett Johansson said absolutely not,” Addario said in an interview with Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. “She said: ‘This guy is perpetuating the war in Yemen. He has women in prison.’”
She also added: “This was before the killing of Khashoggi, when he became one of the main people who wanted to fund the movie.”
Bin Salman has recently been implicated in the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who died in the Saudi embassy in Turkey after writing critically about Bin Salman’s rule.
“I didn’t meet with him personally,” Addario said. “But my sense is that he probably – my movie got folded into this huge charm campaign. And that fact that he wanted to show the west that he was into Hollywood, he was into all the great things of the west … Do I want him associated with this movie? Obviously not. And thank God he’s not.”
In April, Bin Salman headed to Hollywood to meet with studio heads and stars including Dwayne Johnson. It was a visit that led to protests and last week the CNN reporter Oliver Darcy tweeted a screen grab of an Instagram post from Johnson at the time stating it was a “pleasure” to meet him.
“Such a silly, clickbait post, Oliver,” Johnson fired back. “I’m surprised you’d post this. Go back and really read my words. I listened and learned then. As I listen and learn now. C’mon man.”
Addario’s work has focused on global conflicts and particularly the effect they have had on women. During her career, she has been kidnapped twice and sexually assaulted while detained in Libya. The upcoming film, originally set to be directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Jennifer Lawrence, is based on Addario’s memoir It’s What I Do.
Johansson was recently embroiled in controversy after signing on to play a transgender character in fact-based crime drama Rub & Tug, a decision that led to upset and caused her to abandon 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,” a statement read.
‘I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.‘
After signing on first of all to play an Asian woman in Ghost in the Shell and secondly to play a transgender man in Rub & Tug to much controversy, it seems like Scarlett Johansson finally understands why people have an issue with her casting. After a defensive first statement about her Rub & Tug role, the actress has just announced that she would be giving up the role of Dante ‘Tex’ Gill and said she has ‘learned a lot from the [LGBTQ+] community’.
She said in a lengthy statement to Out.com, ‘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 realise it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.’
The Avengers: Infinity War actress was slated to play transgender man Dante ‘Tex’ Gill, an individual who ran a brothel posing as a massage parlour in 1970s/80s Pittsburgh. The film Rub & Tug is set to be directed by Ghost in the Shell’s Rupert Sanders (which explains a lot) and as the news is still fresh, there’s no word yet on who will be sliding into Dante’s costume.
Scarlett continued, ‘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.’
This lengthier statement seems to have finally struck the right chord, as we’re not going to lie – her first statement was pretty shocking. When first pressed on her Rub & Tug casting announcement by journalists, she said in a pointed and defensive statement, ‘Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.’
Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman both played trans characters in their respective films Dallas Buyers’ Club and Transamerica, while Jeffrey Tambor played transwoman Maura Pfefferman in Transparent. All three cisgendered actors saw great critical acclaim for their performances, with Leto winning an Oscar for best supporting actor, Huffman a Golden Globe for best actress in a motion picture and Tambor a Golden Globe for best performance by an actor in a comedy or musical television series. (Jeffrey Tambor has since left Transparent in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.)
Here’s hoping that Rub & Tug does the right thing and puts out a casting call for actors from the trans community, who rarely have the chance to tell their own stories onscreen in Hollywood.