So there still are no openly gay leading men, at least on the Major Motion Picture front. It’s a pity.
According to Matt Damon (in a comment he’s since insisted was taken out of context), this is because the career of Rupert Everett, who came out in 1989 when Matt was 19, did not achieve the stardom Everett apparently assumed he was destined for. Apparently this narrative, promulgated mostly by Everett, made a deep impression on Damon.
Damon’s theory, whether he meant it or not, is another version of the old canard that openly gay men can’t be leading men because straight men recoil at the notion and, for women, it ruins the fantasy. Hahaha
The truth is that a new generation of talented actors are gay and working, even dominating. A few are even on the verge of becoming leading men. We predict 2016 will be a breakthrough year.
Here are a few favorites, by type, because there are so many and it worked out that way:
Television’s Golden Age grew us two very good looking and talented leading men in roles on HBO, Fox and flyover USA Network. In 2016, look for Wentworth (top) as Captain Cold in Legends of Tomorrow on the CW. Find Bomer (above) in a Magnificent Seven remake on the big screen from Antoine Fuqua then, and starring in Ryan Murphy’s Hotel now.
2. Simon Woods and Luke Evans
This pair of British imports are a gift from the mother country. Woods is best known for roles like Octavian in HBO’s period drama Rome, plus Pride & Prejudice and as the dreamy Dr. Harrison in the BBC’s Cranford. Likewise Welsh and beefcake Evans broke out as Apollo in 2010’s Clash of the Titans and played Bard the Bowman in The Hobbit, Aramis in The Three Musketeers and the villain in F&F6.
The two Ellens are kind of bookmark leading ladies. Degeneres came out on top-rated Ellen in 1997, with a cover on Time. Juno’s Page did it at a Human Rights Campaign event last year and it wasn’t much of a story. Look for Ellen in Finding Dory next year, and Ellen playing gay with Julianne Moore in Freeheld, just out, in a theater near you.
4. Jim Parsons and Neil Patrick Harris
This pair of TV dandies are sparkly, broadcast types, which is why they play so well at the Tonys. They’re also some of the highest paid actors and producers in television. They may lack the charisma to become true leading men, but they are two of the most versatile and talented working stars today.
5. Zachary Quinto and Luke Macfarlane
The two actors popped in 2006 with Heroes on NBC and Brothers and Sisters on ABC. Now Quinto owns Spock and plays (also) gay Glenn Greenwald in next year’s Snowden from Oliver Stone. Coming up, Canadian Macfarlane goes PBS for Civil War-era drama Mercy Street and ripped for Killjoys on Syfy.
6. Lily Tomlin and Jodie Foster
We always knew they were, and both got around to being comfortable with sharing their sexual orientation the broader public in the time since Rupert. Foster directs Money Monster with George Clooney and Julia Roberts for 2016, Tomlin will be at the Oscars for stellar indy Grandma.
You recognize everyman O’Hare (True Blood, all things Ryan Murphy) and Hickey (Flags of Our Fathers, The Good Wife) from those and a million other things. Yep, they’re gay.
Gay Glee club members (among others) Colfer and Lynch share a love of musicals! In high school, Colfer wrote, directed and starred in a Sweeney Todd act called Shirley Todd. Jane is currently on tour with Kate Flannery (Meredith from The Office) in a show called See Jane Sing! In 2016, look for Colfer as Noel Coward in a biopic about the famously gay songwriter and raconteur, and in Ab Fab: The Movie. Look for Lynch in a new Christopher Guest joint called Mascots.
Sulu and the Thorn Birds guy got a second act by coming out. Why not?
10. Xavier Dolan and Matthieu Charnel
And last: dessert. French speaking actors Dolan and Charneau are also a director (Dolan) and a model (Charneau). The brainy Quebecois helms his 7th pic It’s Only the End of the World for 2016. Charneau flexes his Gallic muscles on FX’s new Bastard Executioner; they call him Frenchie. For both 26 year-old actors, coming out was never a question.
They never had to. Leading.