Sean Bean has opened up about his past trans role and the ongoing debate of straight actors playing LGBTQ+ characters. 

Back in 2012, Bean starred in the second season of the crictially acclaimed BBC anthology series Accused.

In his feature episode, the legendary actor plays bored school teacher Simon who lives a double life as Tracie in the evenings.

During a night out at a club, Tracie meets Tony and the two share a romantic night together.

After their initial meeting, they begin a casual relationship after Tony reveals that he’s a widower.

His role as Tracie was embraced by critics in the industry and even won him an international Emmy.

In an interview with The Guardian, Bean talked about his role and weighed in on the ongoing debate surrounding casting for LGBTQ+ roles.

“I come from a generation that started in repertory theatre, playing a different role each week. The aim was to play as many parts as possible,” Bean said.

“Whereas there’s a tendency now to argue that characters can only be played by someone like them.”

Bean went on to say that criticisms surrounding straight actors playing LGBTQ+ roles were “restrictive and counterproductive.”

“We risk getting into a situation where drama is dictated more by which boxes are ticked than the story being told,” he said.

“I often think that, if I did Tracie’s Story today, there’d be an uproar. I have a feeling it would be questioned and wouldn’t even be made, but it’s one of the roles I’m proudest of. It seems such a shame if actors can’t play a range of parts.”

Bean’s comments come a week after director Aaron Sorkin said casting gay actors in queer roles was an “empty gesture.”

During an interview with the Sunday Times Culture magazine, Sorkin opened up about casting a Spanish actor in a Cuban role for his latest film Being the Ricardos.

“This should be the last place there are walls. Spanish and Cuban are not actable. If I was directing you in a scene and said: “It’s cold, you can’t feel your face”. That’s actable. But if I said: “Be Cuban”. That is not actable,” he said.

He then went on to discuss the controversial topic of straight actors taking on LGBTQ+ roles.

“Nouns aren’t actable. Gay and straight aren’t actable. You can act being attracted to someone, but can’t act gay or straight,” he said.

“So this notion that only gay actors should play gay characters? That only a Cuban actor should play Desi? Honestly, I think it’s the mother of all empty gestures and a bad idea.

Shortly after his comments made headlines, actor and producer Billy Eichner effortlessly shut down the director’s statement in a single tweet. 

“Completely ignorant of how Hollywood has treated its openly LGBTQ+ actors for a century,” he said.

“Talking about shit he doesn’t fully comprehend. Scared that Hollywood isn’t (entirely) ruled by straight men anymore. Go write yourself a ‘walk and talk’ back into the past. Merry Christmas!”

Eichner is gearing up to change the industry with his upcoming movie Bros – which will follow the love story of two gay men.

The film is set to be the first gay romantic comedy released by a major studio, with Eichner making history as the first openly gay man to co-write and appear in one.

All of the principal heterosexual roles will also be played by openly LGBTQ+ actors and actresses in what is set to become an instant queer classic.