Scarlett Johansson has insisted actors should not be restricted from taking on certain roles.
The actress pulled out of the film Rub & Tug last year after it emerged she was set to play a transgender character.
The Avengers: Endgame star was heavily criticised for taking on the role, which many detractors argued should have gone to a transgender performer in a bid to increase diversity in Hollywood.
But the 34-year-old star has now waded back into the debate, insisting “art should be free of restrictions”.
In an interview with As If magazine, she said: “You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job.
“I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons, yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions.
“I think society would be more connected, if we just allowed others to have their own feelings and not expect everyone to feel the way we do.”
Scarlett immediately faced criticised for her comments on social media...
Scarlett Johansson is a cisgender white woman with a powerful platform and no storage of work opportunities. Trans people should play trans people. Period. It is incredibly disappointing that she has learned nothing and clearly does not care about the experiences of trans people. https://t.co/yWMeCZbUMS— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) July 13, 2019
I will not be seeing any films that involve Scarlett Johansson moving forward. I do not want to give my money to someone who trivializes the oppression of trans people and diminishes the importance of our visibility.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) July 13, 2019
Yes, ScarJo, you should be able to play a tree. Because there aren’t countless sentient trees desiring to act yet struggling to get cast in roles. But there ARE ton of LGBTQIA l/non binary actors who have vocalized that they would love to represent those characters.— Stephanie Mickus (@smickable) July 13, 2019
ScarJo is the highest paid female actor in 2018, banking $40.5 mil. But she feels entitled to take roles away from Asian, Trans & other underrepresented actors? https://t.co/vB0g2SlatA— Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) July 13, 2019
lmao scarlett johansson was asked about giving up that trans role and then immediately jumped to comparing playing different gender identities/ethnicities to... animals and trees? ok hun pic.twitter.com/UjtmvGruEt— Nina Mohan 🇱🇰 (@NinaLMohan) July 13, 2019
I hope if there is ever a biopic about Scarlett Johansson it'll be played by an Asian woman because that Asian woman should be allowed to play any person, right? https://t.co/DPVI2IM0Vq— Laura (@lsirikul) July 13, 2019
The debate around diversity in Hollywood has attracted high-profile advocates on both sides.
Two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett said she would “fight to the death” to defend an actor’s right to take any role, while Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston defended his casting as a disabled character in The Upside.
On the opposite side of the argument, British actress Jameela Jamil revealed she turned down a film in which she would have played a deaf woman, arguing the role should go to an actor who is hearing impaired.
And Darren Criss, star of American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, vowed not to take any more roles as LGBT characters.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.