Rub & Tug, the upcoming biopic of Dante “Tex” Gill, is being redeveloped as a television series.
According to Deadline, Emmy-nominated writer, producer and trans activist Our Lady J is writing the pilot, and the studio (New Agency) are committed to casting a transgender actor to portray the infamous gangster. Gill was a transgender man who owned a massage parlour in Pittsburgh’s criminal underground sex industry in the 70s.
When Rub & Tug was announced for the big screen in 2018, it was marred in controversy due to Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson, a cisgender woman, being cast in the role. It caused an outcry from the LGBTQ+ community and mainstream media, who questioned why a cisgender actor would be playing Gill when so few transgender actors are able to get roles on the big screen.
Johansson initially defended her casting, comparing it to Jeffrey Tambor, Felicity Huffman and Jared Leto, all of whom have previously played trans characters and received widespread acclaim for their performances (Leto won an Oscar and Tambor won an Emmy).
She ultimately dropped out of the role, admitting in a 2019 interview: “I wasn’t totally aware of how the trans community felt about those three actors playing — and how they felt in general about cis actors playing — transgender people. I wasn’t aware of that conversation — I was uneducated. So I learned a lot through that process. I misjudged that.”
Nick Adams, GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Representation, said Our Lady J and New Agency are “joining the call to hire talented and experienced transgender storytellers to tell trans stories.”
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