Darren Criss says he won’t play gay roles anymore, and here’s why

“I want to make sure I won’t be another straight boy taking a gay man’s role.”

Darren Criss says he won’t play anymore gay roles.

The American actor is best known for portraying gay high school student Blaine Anderson in Glee, and for his role as Andrew Cunanan in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

For the latter, he won his first ever Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.

Despite his success, and acclaim from critics, he’s come to the conclusion that he won’t play queer roles in the future, and gave his reason why in an interview with Bustle.

“There are certain [queer] roles that I’ll see that are just wonderful,” he said. “But I want to make sure I won’t be another straight boy taking a gay man’s role.”

Darren said it’s been “a real joy” playing the aforementioned characters – including Hedwig in the Broadway musical of the same name – but said he now doesn’t feel comfortable playing them.

He called it “unfortunate”, but explained further: “The reason I say that is because getting to play those characters is inherently a wonderful dramatic experience. It has made for very, very compelling and interesting people.”

His comments appear to be in reference to the recent controversy surrounding straight actors in LGBTQ roles.

Back in July, Scarlett 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.

Shortly after, Cate Blanchett came out in support of straight actors playing queer characters.

The Australian actress – who was nominated for 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.”

Related: Exclusive: Darren Criss on how homophobia was a catalyst for Gianni Versace’s murder.

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