Surprisingly, shady gay publicist Howard Bragman wasn’t the most exciting thing at Saturday’s Outfest panel “Coming Out in Hollywood.” That honor goes to Don Roos, the gay director who doesn’t want gay actors coming out.
It’s bad for their careers, Happy Endings director Roos told the audience, mimicking last year’s Outfest panel remarks by Emmy-winning director Todd Holland. Out gay actors simply won’t get cast as straight leads, says Roos, seen here with a confirmed transgender actress: “I think the relationship between an audience and an actor is a very complicated thing, especially in a romantic lead. When you’re in a movie theater, what’s on the screen isn’t necessarily appealing to your best instincts. Most of the audience is going to be homophobic, they’re mostly violent in their hearts and that’s what they’re responding to on the screen and you can’t wait to have a career until the audience is not homophobic. That’s never going to happen. … In a romantic role, it can be very distracting for the audience to not be able to give themselves to a particular character. Like when I was watching Philadelphia — I knew [Tom Hanks] was straight.”
He followed that up by telling blogger Greg Hernandez, “I kept feeling distracted knowing that he wasn’t really gay. I was admiring him and thinking, ‘Oh my God, how well he’s playing that.’ The more I know about any actor about anything, the more distracting it is. I’m just saying in general, the more I know about an actor and his personal life and his personal beliefs, the less useful it is to me as a director. Sometimes I’m distracted because I’m mad that it isn’t a gay actor playing that role. Whatever your political thing is, it interferes with the storytelling.”
Which sounds like he’s saying it’s smarter for actors to stay out the tabloids than it is to stay out of the closet.