Should gay roles be portrayed only by gay actors? Or is all fair in Love and Hollywood? Considering Ewan McGregor’s casting as iconic (and gay) fashion designer, Halston – it’s safe to say the Scottish actor prefers the latter.
McGregor was cast to play the American game-changing designer Halston in Ryan Murphy’s latest production for Netflix. The Golden Globe winning actor’s portrayal of Roy Halston Frowick however has been met with criticism – yet another straight male actor snagging a role of a gay man. But should critics have something negative to say about this choice of casting, considering a gay man (Murphy) chose to cast McGregor in this role.
Billy Porter (the only openly gay black actor to win a prime time Emmy for a lead role) has said that he has been turned down for gay roles numerous times throughout his career while straight actors were able to book those roles with ease (and be awarded for them). Porter referred to it as “tiresome” while appearing on The Hollywood Reporter’s Actor Roundtable.
Murphy told Vogue that casting McGregor in the role was “the only choice”:
“He was, to us, the only choice. The thing that Ewan got about Halston was that Halston had a vision in his mind of who he wanted to be in life. He was self-created.”
McGregor is standing by his choice to take on the role of the designer. He says that it’s okay for him to portray this character because it’s not just about Halston’s sexuality, it’s about his life and career. McGregor told The Hollywood Reporter that Halston’s sexuality was “just one part of who he was.”
“If it had been a story about Halston’s sexuality more, then maybe it’s right that gay actors should play that role. But in this case — and I don’t want to sound like I’m worming out of this, because it’s something I did think a lot about — I suppose ultimately I felt like it was just one part of who he was.”
McGregor has stepped in the shoes of gay characters on several occasions throughout his career. He has previously played gay in Velvet Goldmine, I Love You Phillip Morris, and The Pillow Book.
Halston reached the height on his career and found international fame in the mid 1970’s. His fame and success led him to live a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll. He died at the age of 57 due to AIDS related complications.
“Halston” premieres on Netflix on May 14. Will you be tuning in?
All images courtesy of Ryan Murphy’s Instagram