Gareth David-Lloyd, who played bisexual character Ianto Jones in Torchwood, said he had a “sulky” response to comments from Russell T. Davies.
Gareth David-Lloyd has backed Russell T. Davies after the Queer as Folk and It’s a Sin creator said there was an “authenticity” to queer actors being in queer roles.
Gareth initially hit out at the comments due to him playing bisexual character Ianto Jones in Torchwood. “Ianto’s sexuality was complex, but interesting that I got the role partly based on the strength of a gay character I played for Russell T Davies in Mine All Mine,” he posted in a since deleted tweet. “But then I suppose we all make mistakes.”
One particular thing that Russell said that annoyed Gareth was that people he cast “are not there to ‘act gay’ because ‘acting gay’ is a bunch of codes for a performance.”
Reflecting on his “sulky” comments, Gareth told the Metro: “I was a little upset with the implication that all straight actors approach gay roles with a mind to ‘act gay’.
“Of course there are those that do that and there have been some really cringy performances but I think to tar all straight actors with the same brush on approaching gay roles was a little unfair.
“I did feel like he was rubbishing not only my performances in the two roles that he created, but also my opinion on performances that I admire – Michael C. Hall in Six Feet Under, Sean Penn [as] Harvey Milk, Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club.”
Gareth said that he had been “completely oversensitive” in the row, feeling that Russell must have had some some “regret” over casting him in LGBTQ+ roles as they hadn’t worked together since Torchwood.
However, the pair have since made up in a phone call, and Gareth now backs Russell over the comments that he made.
“Russell contacted me actually after I tweeted that and he was mortified that he’d upset me, he told me he had no regrets casting me and he loved the work that I’d done, and what he wanted to achieve in that interview was basically a call to the industry to balance the playing field and give gay actors more opportunities and I completely agree with him on that,” Gareth explained.
“Absolutely, gay actors should be considered for gay roles first.”
He added: “I think to really level the playing field, I think more non-straight actors should be considered for roles full stop, regardless of the character’s sexuality, especially big leads.”
The queer actors in queer roles row has been encapsulating the industry for years with many opinions flying around. Recently, gay actor Neil Patrick Harris, who stars in the new AIDS-era drama It’s a Sin, said there was something “sexy” about straight actors playing gay.
“I’m not one to jump onto labelling. As an actor you certainly hope you can be a visible option for all kinds of different roles. I played a character [in How I Met Your Mother] for nine years who was nothing like me. I would definitely want to hire the best actor.”
Harris then used Aiden Gillen, Craig Kelly and Charlie Hunnam’s roles as gay men in Davies’ classic series, Queer as Folk, as an example.
“It was one of the real true turning points for me as examples of sexy guys behaving as leads in something of import, not as comic sidekicks,” said Harris. “I think there’s something sexy about casting a straight actor to play a gay role, if they’re willing to invest a lot into it.”