Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci have thrown their hats into the ring regarding the topic surrounding straight actors playing gay roles.
The celebrated stars got candid about the matter in an interview with Attitude ahead of their upcoming film Supernova in which they play a gay couple on a road trip in the Lake District of the United Kingdom.
“I don’t have a final position on this,” Firth said. “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.”
The British-born actor has previously played gay in the Tom Ford directed film A Single Man for which he earned an Oscar nomination.
“Whenever I take on anything, I think it’s an insufferable presumption,” he added. “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?”
Tucci also has a history in playing gay roles which he famously did in the 2005 hit film The Devil Wears Prada alongside Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway.
“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,” he said. “Anybody should be able to play any role that they want to play – that’s the whole point of acting.”
The debate about straight actors playing not only gay but any form of LGBTQ has been widely debated in and out of our community for years. Many of them have won huge honors or nominations for their work like Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry and Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain.
Some have vowed to never portray anyone LGBTQ moving forward in their careers. Darren Criss, who played gay on the FOX series Glee, had this to say about the matter. “There are certain [queer] roles that I’ll see that are just wonderful,” he told Bustle back in 2018, “but I want to make sure I won’t be another straight boy taking a gay man’s role.”
Viggo Mortensen, however, thinks differently. The Oscar nominee stars in the upcoming film Falling where he plays the husband of a man whose homophobic father comes to live with them while dealing with dementia.
“There are certain characters I’m not going to play,” he told Reuters recently. “I wouldn’t play Eric, the Chinese-Hawaiian American,” referring to another character in the film.
During the chat he also insisted that his character of John isn’t a “gimmick, anchor or some trigger.”
“I thought, what if it’s not a wife? What if it’s a husband?” Mortensen said regarding his decision to make John a gay man. “I’ll try that. I’ll write the next scene and see how it feels. If it doesn’t work or feels somehow not right for the story, then I won’t use it, but I liked it.”
There is a flip side to this issue. Openly gay Wentworth Miller just revealed that he’s done playing straight roles. It’s a big part of the reason why he’s not returning to Prison Break for another season in which his character Michael Scofield is a heterosexual.
His reasons are largely based on the backlash he’s received on social media since coming out of the closet and how he’d rather focus on something that will inspire our LGBTQ youth.
“I’m not concerned for myself. I can’t be ‘bullied” in this space,’” he wrote in part. “I have too much power. ‘Delete. Block. Deactivate.’ Etc,” he said. “But I take seriously the possibility of queer kids visiting here, recently out of the closet or exploring the idea… I don’t want them exposed to b******t.”