Andy Serkis ‘vehemently disagrees’ with criticism over Scarlett Johansson in trans role

© Gage Skidmore and Greg Razzi

“I absolutely disagree. I really, vehemently disagree.”

British actor and filmmaker Andy Serkis has defended Scarlett Johansson being cast as a transgender character.

Back in July, Johansson stepped down from playing transgender man Dante “Tex” Gill in the upcoming biopic Rub and Tug, after receiving widespread backlash from the LGBTQ community.

“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,” she told Out Magazine.

“I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.”

In an interview with Variety for his upcoming Netflix film, Mowgli, Serkis slammed the criticism over cisgender actors playing transgender characters.

“I absolutely disagree. I really, vehemently disagree,” he told the publication. “Actors should be able to play anything, and that’s why I love this [performance capture] technology.

“What should be the point is that whatever colour your skin is, whatever shape you are, whatever height you are, whatever your makeup is as an actor, you should have the ability to play anything.”

His comments echo those of Cate Blanchett, who recently came out in support of straight actors playing LGBTQ roles.

The Australian actress – who won an Oscar for her role as a lesbian in Carol (2015) – told The Hollywood Reporter that she disagrees with the notion that straight actors can’t portray characters without having shared experiences.

She confidently said: “It also speaks to something that I’m quite passionate about in storytelling generally, but in film specifically, which is that film can be quite a literal medium.

“And I will fight to the death for the right to suspend disbelief and play roles beyond my experience. I think reality television and all that that entails had an extraordinary impact, a profound impact on the way we view the creation of character.

“I think it provides a lot of opportunity, but the downside of it is that we now, particularly in America, I think, we expect and only expect people to make a profound connection to a character when it’s close to their experience.”

Russell Tovey also came out in defence of straight actors playing gay roles, telling The Telegraph: “If you’re an actor, you’re an actor. The whole thing with Jack [Whitehall] playing a gay character… I’m like, just let him act.”

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