“How can you justify heterosexual actors playing gay characters?”
Richard E. Grant has taken a stance in the ongoing debate around heterosexual actors portraying LGBTQ characters.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, the British actor – who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Can You Ever Forgive Me? – said he’s always been ‘concerned’ about diverse representation in the film industry.
“The transgender movement and the #MeToo movement means, how can you justify heterosexual actors playing gay characters?” he explained. “If you want someone to play a disabled role, that should be a disabled actor.”
Grant, who was talking to the publication about his role in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, continued to say that we are currently in a “historic” moment and understands “why and how [the current change of mood has] come about.”
Last year, Scarlett Johansson stepped down from playing transgender man Dante “Tex” Gill in the upcoming biopic Rub and Tug, after receiving widespread backlash from critics and the LGBTQ community.
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.”
Darren Criss, who won an Emmy Award for playing gay man Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace, said he won’t play queer roles in the future because he doesn’t want to be “another straight boy taking a gay man’s role”.