Tag: actors

Corrie star disagrees with screenwriter on gay actors

Russell T Davies Peter Ash Coronation Street

Peter Ash waded into the debate around whether straight actors should play gay roles after Russell T Davies said he cast queer people in It’s a Sin for “authenticity”. (Peter Ash (L) (Twitter) and Russell T Davies (R) (Ken Jack/Getty)

A straight Coronation Street star, who plays a gay man on the soap, has decided that he is the authority on whether queer roles should be played by queer actors.

The never-ending debate around whether gay roles should be played by gay actors reared its head once again in the last week, with screenwriter Russell T Davies explaining that he cast queer actors in his new drama It’s a Sin because they would bring an “authenticity” to the show.

Peter Ash, who plays Paul Foreman on Coronation Street, promptly waded into the debate, sharing a screenshot of Davies’ interview, which was published with the headline: “Gay roles should be given to gay actors.”

Ash gracefully took the time to share a definition of acting, just in case Davies – who has created numerous groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed television series – doesn’t know what it is.

“Acting; the art or occupation of performing fictional roles in plays, films or television,” Ash tweeted alongside the screenshot of Davies’ interview.

Coronation Street fans quickly jumped in to agree with Ash. “I believe it should be based on who is the best person for the role 100 per cent,” one wrote.

“Surely a role like any other job should be given on ability and competence?” another tweeted.

One Twitter user replied: “I don’t understand why or how the sexual preference of a real life actor should interfere with how they play the role of a character? If we’re playing a murder, should we have experience of murder? This quote is a joke and a disappointment!”

Russell T Davies said authenticity leads us ‘to joyous places’

Davies ruffled feathers when he told Radio Times in an interview on Monday (11 January) that he wants “authentic” gay representation in television shows.

He said: “I’m not being woke about this… but I feel strongly that if I cast someone in a story, I am casting them to act as a lover, or an enemy, or someone on drugs or a criminal or a saint… they are not there to ‘act gay’ because ‘acting gay’ is a bunch of codes for a performance.

“It’s about authenticity, the taste of 2020.”

He added: “You wouldn’t cast someone able-bodied and put them in a wheelchair, you wouldn’t Black someone up. Authenticity is leading us to joyous places.”

The debate around whether straight actors should play gay roles rears its head every few months, and it appears to be a never-ending source of controversy.

In November, bisexual actor Kristen Stewart said she thinks it’s OK for straight actors who are allies to the LGBT+ community to play gay characters – as long as they do the work to understand that experience.

Stewart admitted that she thinks about the debate “all the time”, and added: “I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who’s lived that experience.

“Having said that, it’s a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I’m going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law.”

“I think it’s such a grey area,” she added. “There are ways for men to tell women’s stories, or ways for women to tell men’s stories. But we need to have our finger on the pulse and actually have to care.”

 

 

 

Jim Parsons eloquently weighs in on straight actors playing gay

Jim Parsons was 'frightened' of Pride parades before coming out

Jim Parsons. (Frazer Harrison/Getty)

Jim Parsons has gracefully waded into the long-simmering debate over whether straight, cisgender actors should play LGBT+ people in film and television.

Parsons, 47, reflected in an interview with the Los Angeles Times newspaper on his role in The Boys in the Band, the Netflix flick with an all-queer cast that centred on the lives of a group of gay men in pre-Stonewall-era New York City.

But how would the film have played out with a patchwork cast of non-LGBT+ and LGBT+ actors? Parsons offered a vastly pliable response to the issue of queer representation.

“There’s definitely this spectrum,” Jim Parsons, who plays Mart Crowley in the film, mused.

Jim Parsons: Filmmakers must ‘ensure that all parts are open to all actors’

“I think the fight, as it were, is not about having only gay people play the gay parts but to ensure that all parts are open to all actors.

“It’s important that gay characters are portrayed as well-rounded and completely human individuals.

“And there are plenty of straight actors who have played gay characters brilliantly.

“I think Brokeback Mountain is one of the most touching gay movies and love stories I have ever seen, and those two straight actors [Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal] were the best choices for those roles.”

The turbulent, decades-long trajectory of queer representation on the small screen has gone from flat one-episode secondary players to fully-fleshed characters central to storylines.

Indeed, the amount of queer characters on our screens has consistently hit new heights each year, according to annual reports by GLAAD.

James Corden The Prom
Jams Corden, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells and Meryl Streep in The Prom (MELINDA SUE GORDON/NETFLIX © 2020)

But Hollywood has remained hobbled by how it, year after year, casts straight, cisgender people in LGBT+ roles, with the sluggishness of the film industry to change that routinely fuelling disappointment among queer moviegoers and film critics.

Seemingly typifying the anger against filmmakers giving straight actors queer roles was the move to cast James Corden, a professional straight man, to play Barry Glickman, an ailing gay Broadway star in Ryan Murphy’s The Prom.

Murphy’s casting choices have long been ribbed by viewers for being white, tall, often square-jawed men, but critics had little patience for Corden’s performance, branding it “gross and offensive“.

His performance drew the frustrated ire of critics for his overblown, camp portrayal of a gay man, with Erik Anderson, founder of AwardsWatch, dubbing it “gayface”.

Wentworth Miller on why it’s better to use gay actors for gay roles / Queerty

Wentworth Miller on why it’s better to use gay actors

Wentworth Miller in Prison Break
Wentworth Miller in Prison Break (Photo: Fox)

Actor Wentworth Miller has spoken further about the importance of gay representation on screen. Two weeks ago, Miller – who came out as gay in 2013 – took to Instagram to inform fans that he had no plans to return for a mooted sixth season of Prison Break, saying he only wished to play gay characters from now on.

Yesterday, Miller posted an Instagram video of himself kissing the actor Russell Tovey. The two men played love interests Leo Snart/Captain Cold and Ray Tyrrell on the DC show, The Flash, in 2017.

In the accompanying caption, Miller spoke about the power of having two gay actors to play gay superheroes and kiss on screen. He also went on to highlight one of the benefits of casting a gay actor.

Related: Russell Tovey and Wentworth Miller share passionate kiss

“Leo. The powers-that-be willed him into existence and I was grateful. He didn’t have to be gay but the writers wrote that shit. So we got 2 gay actors playing 2 gay superheroes kissing onscreen… Felt like a moment.

He went on to say that when he read the script, he felt it needed tweaking.

“Where Leo tells Mick and Sara he’s marrying Ray, his original line was like, ‘I just want something normal…’ Gays. Just like us. Except me? I’m not getting married. I didn’t want Leo framing marriage as ‘normal’ for folks (kids) watching. It’s not. It’s homonormative. A ton of queer folks are living full/content lives outside the marriage construct. That line became, ‘I’m looking for a new kind of adventure’ (or some such).”

Miller went on to ask, “Would a straight actor playing Leo push for that change? Have that conversation with the (straight) writers and (straight) director? Maybe. I did bec I had to. It reflects my lived experience. I’m having those conversations 24-7. Not just on set.

“I should note I had the weight – and will – to push for rewrites. Not every actor does. #privilege.”

He says he also questioned another part of the script.

“Last tweak: The sc where Leo and Ray argue while Ray changes. The first draft called for me to ‘blush and turn away’ at the sight of a shirtless Ray. Hello. They’re lovers. Pretty sure it was the person who wrote that sc who wanted to blush and turn away.”

A day earlier, Miller also returned to the issue of him not rejoining Prison Break. Since his first announcement a couple of weeks ago, some fans have speculated that the show’s creators might tempt him back by making his character, Michael Schofield, gay.

Related: Wentworth Miller quits Prison Break, doesn’t “want to play straight characters”

Miller appeared to pour cold water on this idea. He also dismissed further speculation that Scofield might enter into any sort of relationship with the character T-Bag, who is shown having sex with men in prison but is also a racist, pedophile, murderer, and rapist. Millers suggests T-Bag should not be considered gay representation.

“Forgive me,” said Miller on Instagram. “I need to put my finger on something. In and around the ‘reveal’ I’m gay IRL, don’t wish to play straight parts etc., I saw dozens of comments suggesting Michael leave Sara for T-bag. Or that T-bag will be ‘looking’ for Michael/me.

“Is it possible, to some folks, T-Bag = “gay” rep on PB? Maybe the ONLY rep on TV in their part of the world? Forget the homophobes + zealots (bec fuck them) – for the queer kids, the queer adults who will never come out bec coming out = death in their part of the world… is T-bag the best they can expect?”

He went on to say that Hollywood sends out messages to viewers, whether intentional or not, which is why he believes so strongly about bringing authentic LGBTQ representation to the screen.

“Stories matter. Balanced, responsible storytelling matters. You never know who’s watching. Or where.”

Sexually ’rounded’ actors have an ‘advantage’ in the industry

Actor Freddie Fox sexuality

Freddie Fox thinks actors who have a more “rounded” experience of sexuality have an advantage in the film industry (Jeff Spicer/Getty for BFI)

Freddie Fox thinks actors who have a more “rounded” experience of sexuality have a “real advantage” in the film industry.

Fox, 31, has been reluctant to define his sexuality, but the actor – who plays Margaret Thatcher’s son in season four of The Crown – has indicated that he might not be straight.

In a 2015 interview, Fox said: “I’ve had girlfriends, but I wouldn’t wish to say ‘I am this or I am that’, because at some time in my life I might fall in love with a man.”

When asked about the quote by The Telegraph, Fox said he doesn’t regret saying it.

Freddie Fox thinks actors must no longer be ‘feasibly heterosexual’ to land leading roles.

“I’m very interested in how the world is changing and how perceptions are changing,” Freddie Fox said.

“If you look at someone like Rupert Everett, he would say that talking about his sexuality really altered the course of his career.

“I think being able to say that you have a more rounded experience as a human being, whether it be through sexuality, or whatever, is now perceived as a real advantage.”

Heroes used to look and sound a certain way which was, you know, muscular, white and male. Heroes now are totally different, whether it be gender or sexuality, appearance, disability.

When asked if he thinks actors must be “feasibly heterosexual” to land leading man roles, Fox said: “I’m pretty sure that it’s becoming no.”

He added: “Heroes used to look and sound a certain way which was, you know, muscular, white and male. Heroes now are totally different, whether it be gender or sexuality, appearance, disability.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the actor opened up about his relationship with his cousin, Laurence Fox, who has faced significant backlash over his views on race and LGBT+ identities. Laurence Fox recently launched his own political party in an effort to “reclaim” British values.

When asked if he shares any of Laurence’s political views, Freddie replied: “Not really. But I respect Laurence’s path. And he must do what he must do. I don’t share that many opinions with him… but I love him very much as my cousin and we do share private time and I care for him enormously.”

Supernova star doesn’t know if straight actors should play gay

Colin Firth

Colin Firth at the “Supernova” premiere in London on October 11, 2020 (Tim P Whitby/Getty/BFI)

Colin Firth has declined to weigh in on whether straight actors should be able to play gay roles, admitting it’s something he’s given “a lot of thought”.

Firth plays a gay man in his upcoming film Supernova, a tearjerker about a couple who embark on a road trip as one of them grapples with dementia. He also took on a gay role in in 2010’s A Single Man.

The actor was questioned on whether it was right for him to do so in an interview for December’s issue of Attitude, but said he remained undecided.

“I don’t have a final position on this,” he replied. “I think the question is still alive. It’s something I take really seriously, and I gave it a lot of thought before doing this.”

He continued: “Whenever I take on anything, I think it’s an insufferable presumption. I don’t really feel I have the right to play the character. That’s always the starting point. What do I know about this person’s life?

“How can I presume to set foot in this person’s lived experience, let alone try to represent it?”

His Supernova co-star Stanley Tucci, who also played a gay character in The Devil Wears Prada, added: “For so many years, gay men and women have had to hide their homosexuality in showbusiness to get the roles they wanted – that’s the problem here.

“Anybody should be able to play any role that they want to play – that’s the whole point of acting.”

Unfortunately, the question of whether straight actors should play gay characters is likely to remain an issue while access to film roles continues to be unequal across the board.

A recent GLAAD report found that although representation of white gay men is constantly improving in major studio films, representation of other queer people is dismal, and trans and non-binary characters were found to be non-existent in major studio releases from 2019.

An analysis of 118 films across eight major studios found that only 22 (18.6 per cent) included an LGBT+ character, and only nine gave LGBT+ characters more than 10 minutes of screen time.

When those few roles are given to straight actors rather than LGBT+ ones, it throws up an additional barrier to queer people being able to tell their own stories on the big screen.