“If you’re an actor, you’re an actor.”

British actor Russell Tovey has come to Jack Whitehall’s defence for playing a gay character.

Last month, it was revealed that the comedian and television presenter will star alongside The Rock and Emily Blunt in the action adventure Jungle Cruise, based on the Disneyland ride which takes travellers on a journey through a dangerous jungle.

Jack – who identifies as straight – will play the brother of Emily’s character, and will be “hugely effete, very camp and very funny”. It will also be made clear that he has no interest in women.

The movie – which has been described as a “turning point” in Disney’s history – is set in the 19th century, at a time when LGBTQ rights were non-existent and the majority of the community would remain closeted.

While Disney having an openly gay character in a big-budget movie may be a turning point, many have reacted poorly to the news that a straight actor will be playing the role, and worry that the character will be reduced to a stereotype.

In an interview with UK newspaper The Telegraph, Russell opined: “If you’re an actor, you’re an actor. The whole thing with Jack playing a gay character… I’m like, just let him act.

“It’s like me saying I could never play a straight character because I am not going to know a straight person’s thoughts. I’ve always been out, and happy with the range of characters I’ve been offered. I’ve had the most amazing opportunities.”

Jungle Cruise is due for release in cinemas November 2019.

In the September issue of Gay Times, Russell spoke to us about the possibility of a gay Doctor Who, the #MeToo movement, while also reflecting on the ever-changing face of the gay scene in London.

“I went out in Soho on Saturday night and ended up in Freedom, which I’ve always loved and it felt like the gay people in there were in the minority suddenly,” he explained.

“Walking up Wardour Street, it felt like everyone was in their 20s, boys and girls snogging against walls.

“Not gay men or lesbians but straight young teenage couples. I just hope everyone comes off the apps and gets back out there in the bars. It’s the only way it’s going to change.”

When it comes to dating, Russell revealed that he much prefers an unexpected encounter in a bar, rather than trying to match with someone on a dating app.

“It’s so much more exciting when you’re in a bar and you catch someone’s eye and you smile and go over and shake someone’s hand. That is far sexier than being sent someone’s dick pic,” he said.

The actor also confesses that he’s “very, very, very vanilla,” going on to add: “I’m a one-man guy. I just want to be with that person whoever that person is.”

Russell Tovey stars in The Lover and The Collection as part of the Pinter At The Pinter season. Tickets are available to buy here.

You can also purchase Russell Tovey’s September cover of Gay Times here.

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