It looks like Rub and Tug may not be happening after all. The biopic based on Dante “Tex” Gill, a massage parlor owner in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and ’80s, is in limbo after Scarlet Johansson announced her departure.
The film, helmed by Ghost in the Shell director, Ruper Sanders, was announced earlier this summer to controversy – as Dante “Tex” Gill was a transman and Johansson, a cis-woman, was attached to star as the lead role. Accordingly, the trans community voiced their disapproval of the miscasting and Johansson originally responded with ire, sighting previous cis actors who have played trans characters,. However, last week the actress stepped down in favor of inclusion, diversity, and just finally choosing to do the right thing.
Unfortunately, without a “star” attached, it is unclear if Rub & Tug will actually go into production. Complicating matter further, Johansson’s production company, These Pictures, was a producer on the project. Joel Silver’s Silver Pictures is also listed as a production company on the film, but has not made any comment.
While it’s unfortunate that Gill’s story may not come to the screen soon, for me, that’s better than it being done incorrectly.