acting out

Billy Eichner claps back at Aaron Sorkin over gay actor comments

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Comedian Billy Eichner has fired back at writer/director Aaron Sorkin over the latter’s comments regarding gay actors.

Sorkin, whose new film Being the Ricardos hits Amazon Prime Video this week, told The Sunday Times that forcing directors to cast gay actors as gay characters was “an empty gesture,” and cited the reasons behind his thinking. Now Eichner, a strong proponent of letting actors’ sexuality qualify them for roles, has fired back.

In short, he didn’t hold back the anger.

“Completely ignorant of how Hollywood has treated its openly LGBTQ+ actors for a century,” Eichner wrote on Twitter. “Talking about sh*t he doesn’t fully comprehend. Scared that Hollywood isn’t (entirely) ruled by straight men anymore. Go write yourself a ‘walk and talk’ back into the past. Merry Christmas!”

At the time of this writing, Sorkin has not responded to Eichner’s criticism.

Related: Billy Eichner shares his excitement-and outrage-over his new movie

Sorkin had addressed the issue in the context of casting Javier Bardem, a Spanish actor, as the Cuban-born Desi Arnaz in Meet the Ricardos.

“Spanish and Cuban are not actable,” he told the Sunday Times Culture Magazine. “If I was directing you in a scene and said: ‘It’s cold, you can’t feel your face.’ That’s actable. But if I said: ‘Be Cuban.’ That is not actable.”

“It’s heartbreaking and a little chilling to see members of the artistic community re-segregating ourselves,” he added.

“You can act being attracted to someone, but you can’t act gay or straight,” he went on.”So this notion that only gay actors should play gay characters? That only a Cuban actor should play Desi? Honestly, I think it’s the mother of all empty gestures and a bad idea.”

We have to point out here that technically Sorkin is correct: there is no “right” way to act a sexual orientation, any more than there is to act a certain race or gender.

Still, for Eichner, who claims homophobia has hampered his career, Sorkin’s correctness does little to offer consolation. To help combat that perceived homophobia, Eichner will write and direct the comedy Bros for Universal Pictures. The film will reportedly feature an all-LGBTQ leading cast.