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Glenn Close Speaks Out on Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Rub & Tug’ Casting Controversy: ‘Anyone Should Be Able to Play Anyone’

In 2011, the acting legend played a woman who presented herself as a man in the film "Albert Nobbs."

Outside of UK subscription dealsMandatory Credit: Photo by Dan Wooller/REX/Shutterstock (9787387x)Glenn Close (Joan Castleman)'The Wife' arrivals, Screening, London, UK - 10 Aug 2018

Glenn Close at a London screening of “The Wife”

Dan Wooller/REX/Shutterstock

Lauded actress Glenn Close received the most recent of her six Oscar nominations in 2011, for portraying a woman who presents herself as a man in order to advance through 19th century Irish society. While she and her “Albert Nobbs” colleagues maintain that character was not transgender, during an appearance on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s podcast to promote “The Wife,” Close said she “understood the frustration” surrounding Scarlett Johansson’s short-lived recent casting as a transgender man.

“My thinking right now is that people who are producing and directing properties like that need to go out of their way to get trans actors jobs… but they also should have the opportunity to cast the best person,” Close told reporter Diederik van Hoogstraten on “The HFPA in Conversation.” “Acting is a craft… I think personally that anyone should be able to play anyone.”

On July 2, Deadline reported that Johansson would play ’70s massage parlor owner (and secret prostitution ringleader) Dante “Tex” Gill in Rupert Sanders’ “Rub & Tug,” a film she would also produce. Transgender actresses, including Trace Lysette, Jamie Clayton, and Alexandra Billings, criticized Johansson’s casting, as did many LGBTQ allies.

After a rebuff from Johansson via her publicist went viral, the actress withdrew from the project on July 13. She and director Sanders collaborated earlier this decade on “Ghost in the Shell,” another controversial feature, as they were accused of whitewashing Johansson’s character.

No Johansson replacement has been announced thus far. New Regency, Material Pictures, and Joel Silver’s Silver Pictures — which backed the “Lethal Weapon,’ “Die Hard” and “Matrix” franchises — had planned to produce the film, which was set to be the first major studio film with a transgender protagonist.

Listen to Close’s entire episode of “The HFPA in Conversation” below. “The Wife” opens in theaters Friday.

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