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!”
Completely ignorant of how Hollywood has treated its openly LGBTQ+ actors for a century. Talking about shit 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! https://t.co/PMpO36ULMs
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) December 20, 2021
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.
Again, the complete panic and rage by some in Hollywood that the very rare LGBTQ roles that come out every few years might not go to straight people shows ho deep the bigotry runs.
Still waiting for Sorkin to cast Justin Beiber as Harriet Tubman based on his comments.
Please don’t give Sorkin any ideas!
C’mon, you know that’s a silly comparison. We have decided that it’s inherently unacceptable for a white person to play a black person. A straight actor playing a gay character MAY be problematic because of the discrimination gay actors have faced (out gay actors, that is; there have obviously been PLENTY of steadily working and even superstar gay actors in Hollywood’s history)
But there’s no fixed, fundamental reason a straight actor can’t play gay, a gay actor can’t play straight, a cis actor can’t play trans and vice versa, a able-bodied actor can’t play disabled and vice—okay, vice versa in that instance may not always be practical.
How about this as a reason a Queer actor should get some roles, because bigots have been preventing them from being hired for a century and there aren’t the number that would normally be there.
And my comparison was fine, and the rage and panic from hollywood, that, again, the one or to Queer roles a year may not go to straight people shows that the bigotry is still very very deep.
Yes, that’s an excellent reason; in fact, it’s the one I offered when I said casting a straight actor in a gay role might be a legit issue “because of the discrimination gay actors have faced”.
But past discrimination is not the reason it’d be wrong to cast Justin Bieber as Harriet Tubman. Leaving aside your silliness in using a male pop star as your example, as I said before, it is understood that casting a white actor as a black character is inherently and always wrong and racist, and it has been for decades and decades (with an occasional exception that proves the rule, such as Olivier in “Othello”)
That is simply not the case with a straight actor “playing gay”. We have discussable issues about it, yes; but if it were in the same category as blackface it wouldn’t ever happen.
Good for Billy!
This sort of confrontation and pressure to ensure gay actors are included is oh so necessary to overcome endless resistance and bring about change. I wish there were more like Eichner.
Too bad for the movie, but it’s a good thing that Bardem is no Ricky Ricardo, if it promotes dialog and long-needed change.
Totally agree with Sorkin. Will they be interviewing serial killers for a new Jack the Ripper movie, or make sure only extreme right wing actors audition to play Hitler?
In other words, Scarlet Johansen should play Martin Luther King in a movie, because hey, it’s just acting right?
@Cam….yeah, that totally follows (where’s that eyeroll emoji when you need it?)
I suppose your way we’d have to raid the cancer wards for the female lead if they ever remake “Love Story”.
Awww, multiple posts, and targets me. Seems we’ve found another new troll screename from the same old troll.
Thank you for being bad at trolling.
@Cam, oh ffs. I’ve been commenting at Queerty under this screen name for years, probably as long as you’ve been “Cam”. And at your best you’re logical and perceptive; then other times, like on this story, you’re so overly intense about it you do things like draw ridiculous, inapplicable parallels (again–casting a straight actor as a gay character is not equivalent to blackface!!)
There’s no conspiracy to “target” you with multiple screen names. You’re probably right that it happens, but you really need to learn the difference between trolling and someone respectfully and rationally disagreeing with you.
You all have to get the Merv Griffin book where he details an evening where Cesar Romero went into a bedroom to orally please Desi Arnaz !
So AI can identify native homosexuality in facial expression with 91% accuracy, but a straight actor can look gay on demand, and vice versa. Good to know.
Flame me, but personally I don’t always find gay actors doing straight sex convincing.
What the straight cis white guy doesn’t understand is that an LGBTQ+ actor will have a deeper understanding and connection with the LGBTQ+ character…just like a Cuban actor would have a deeper understanding of what Desi went through to get where he was. Sure, it’s all acting, but wouldn’t you imagine you’d get a more authentic performance that way?
That’s theoretical, and definitely not always true. I think Daniel Day-Lewis could play a gay character more authentically than Colton Haynes, just because he’s a fine actor and Haynes isn’t. All that matters is what’s on the screen, not what’s going on “inside” the actor (Stanislavski to the contrary notwithstanding)
A KIND of parallel is a Golden Girls rerun I caught the other day, where Blanche dates a guy in a wheelchair. His acting was so bad I thought, “He has to be genuinely disabled and that’s why they hired him”, so I looked it up and–sure enough. Best would’ve been them hiring a disabled actor who could act (and who wasn’t physically unattractive and charmless); but I’d have settled for a good actor faking the disability.
So, you agree that Eichner just hoisted himself by his own petard, thus proving his hypocrisy.
Gay actors in gay rolls…check, I’m good to go.
But wait…. Eichner’s new production hired gay men to play straight rolls, how could a gay actor bring a sense of authenticity to a straight role, if a straight actor can’t bring authenticity to a gay one?
What Mr. Eichner suggests is scary and dangerous. Someone will suggest that gay actors can’t play straight characters before you know it. I think it’s unduly drawing attention to an actor’s sexual preference, which quite honestly is really not anyone’s business. Oh … and I’ve watched some gay actors play gay characters in some of these damned Christmas movies and oh how I’ve longed for a good actor instead.
“Sexual preference”? Do you mean “sexual orientation”? Did you sleep through the 1990s and early 2000s?
@Kangol2 Because some individuals are sexually fluid, our community is back to calling it a “preference”. I know – I agree with you. It’s a step backward; but, if we aren’t inclusive and respectful to everyone, we will be called “trolls” by the Cam-clan whose opinions are obviously the only acceptable ones.
Be patient, Cam is trolling the boards right now and will announce that you are one of the trolls to be vanquished. We just don’t have the right opinions is it’s not Cam’s opinion.
How did Billy Eichner get a career? He’s not handsome, he’s not funny, he’s not a good actor. His career stalled for years because of those reasons, and not only because he is obviously gay.
According to you.
Hollywood doesn’t cast openly gay actors in str8 roles & until they do- we can demand they don’t cast str8 in gay roles! How many gay actors has Sorkin cast in str8 roles??? Probably ZERO! If we can’t play str8 & the str8 guys get most of the gay roles- what’s left? It’s time to sue!
Right on! These are the only openly gay actors I can think of who played straight roles, not enough!
Billy Eichner Matt Bomer Neil Patrick Harris Ian McKellen Russell Tovey, John Mahoney Jane Lynch Luke Evans Sara Gilbert David Hyde Pierce Sarah Paulson Maria Bello Alan Cumming Zachary Quinto Portia de Rossi Lily Tomlin Jonathan Groff Wanda Sykes Guillermo Diaz Denis O’Hare
@SamB none of them were the lead character. Name one openly gay actor who play a straight character in a box office A list movie
Kareem: He was asking about any roles, not major A-List roles. But there’s a glass closet with Jodie Foster, Tom Cruise (rumours), Luke Evans was the lead in a few movies (Dracula Untold, Gaston). Matt Bomer was a straight lead on his TV show “White Collar” when he was open and out.
I think Billy E, who played straight on American Horror Story, needs to think again when slagging someone for thinking not only gay people can play gay roles. I think if I was an actor I’d want to play any role I think is interesting or challenging or make my career. no?
Drew Barrymore has claimed she’s bisexual for years. So has Anna Paquin, both has been in movies playing straight.
Kristen Stewart after she came out. Kate McKinnon is up for a few straight roles and played straight with Mila Kunis in a fun spy comedy.
There are a ton of roles in successful movies and duds. If you’re lamenting that an openly gay man has never played James Bond then you’re not looking at things right. Ultimately, who cares?
Billy Eichner – an “actor” who would never be cast in anything other than a gay role – desperately trying to preserve his own turf. At least leave the debate to real actors.
I still say Sorkin’s statement contradicts itself. I’m of the opinion that he is simply creating media hype for a movie with a subject only those of us 50+ even remember or possibly care about.
Sounds like a bitter queen picking a fight….Hollywood needs to get over the social engineering demands and start producing something remotely entertaining. Pick the best actor and leave the reverse stereotyping bullshit to The Young Turks.
Twenty-one years ago Oscar-winner Javier Barden played a Cuban – in fact, a GAY Cuban – in Julian Schnabel’s terrific film “Before Night Falls.”
Imagine how many Cuban actors would’ve loved to have had that opportunity?
Just be cute. Inbama’s point went straight over your head.
So far the same old right wing troll has brought in SIX of it’s screenames to cry that a few LGBTQ people might get hired.
If the troll is trying this hard, it lets us know where the good side of this argument is.
“Six” can be your new therapists nickname. Therapy from six might stop these godly proclamations of superiority which reveal paranoia.
I love how when the right wing troll comes in to defend a comment by it’s other screenames, that it always thinks a personal attack will divert from the fact that it’s posts can’t stand up under scrutiny.
As always, your troll game is sad and weak.
@Cam Give your ego a rest. Not everyone who has a different opinion from you is a russian spy troll.
Moderators: please investigate and report if everyone with a different opinion than Cam is the same Russian spy troll. Someone can’t accept that people have their own opinions.
@Cam Give your ego a rest. Not everyone who has a different opinion from you is a russian spy troll.
Moderators: please investigate and report if everyone with a different opinion than Cam is the same Russian spy troll. Cam can’t accept that people have their own opinions.
Hilary Swank did an incredible job that won her a well deserved Oscar in Boys Dont Cry. But imagine a trans actor like Elliot Page getting an opportunity like that now? That’s what Billy and others are taking about and what Aaron Sorkin is still ignorant about. He already had a name in Nicole Kidman to carry the movie, he could’ve hired a Cuban American actor to star opposite her. Representation matters
Lily Tomlin plays a straight woman on “Grace and Frankie.” Patrick Neil Harris played a straight guy on whatever that show was “how I met your mother” or something like that. Tom Hanks played a woman on a tv series in the ’80s (although it was farce, just like in “Some Like It Hot”). Rock Hudson played straight men for 40 years. Travolta, same. Allegedly, Tom Cruise is not straight. Neither was Raymond Burr, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott. And then there are the whispers about Paul Newman, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Marlene Dietrich as well.
Compensating for past injustices by picking someone strictly for their orientation is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, so I wouldn’t want anyone to automatically be cast for their orientation, even though we all know the past.
The thing is not to re-create the mistakes of the past. But that doesn’t mean “affirmative action” for gay actors (it didn’t even work out entire well for us Blacks, frankly).
I “get” Sorkin’s comment. He wants an egalitarian way of picking the actor. That’s something a well-balanced casting director should be able to do. The question is: how many well-balanced casting directors are there?
This less a problem on Broadway than in movies, yet both mediums use actors. Except in one medium (movies), you do one performance, it’s committed to film and it’s eternal. On Broadway, you must deliver 8 times a week. No do-overs on stage. Why is it that Broadway has so much less trouble with gay actors than Hollywood? (Rhetorical question)
Translation: How DARE LGBTQ people try out for roles and expect their life experience and who they are to count for anything. I mean OBVIOUSLY Eric Stonestreet on Modern Family knows more about being gay than the hundreds of actual gay men who probably auditioned for the role.
And there was NOTHING wrong with his portrayal in that show was there…..
Thank you Cam. We know that you are the smartest person on this board and everyone else is wrong. We’ve been waiting for you to enlighten us yet again demonstrating your superior intellect: Modern Family was a horror show for 11 seasons that forever has scarred the gay community showing America that… love is love.
Preach it like Tammy Faye and Jim Baker all in one!
Translation: you can’t defend the comment you made under one of your other screenames so let your obsession with me take over.
Do you ever just apologize to the other trolls at the troll farm for being so terrible at this?
Other people can have opinions. Give your ego a rest.
There’s a lot of folks who like to gaslight when it comes to this topic. And Sorkin’s quote was a perfect example. The first thing folks love to claim is “the right actor should get the role”, which is simply a condescending thing to say and often just a way to justify decisions. Casting has always been more driven by what the people with power (producers, studio execs, financiers) want to see, networking, money, politics, how you will eventually promote the project.
Once again, casting should not be based primarily on identities, especially sexual identities. That is prying too much into people’s personal business. While no matter what someone’s public identities are and how they present themselves, you can never know anyone’s sexual dimensions, lifestyles, preferences, experiences with fluidity or contractions, where someone is in the gender, sexual, affection, romantic, emotional investment, commitment spectrum. However, to claim it’s strictly about “who’s right for the role” and to claim there’s no biases and glass ceilings, it’s an insult to people’s intelligence. We’re just supposed to ignore that every “prestige” and awards bait-y flick that centers on a gay relationship is performed by “straight presenting”/seeming to have hetero preferences and ambitions actors. Just like we’re supposed to overlook that no male actor who’s unabashedly “gay” has gotten a big role in a Hollywood blockbuster. Just like we’re supposed to ignore white-washing. Or casting name actors when unknowns who would suit that role more would be more appropriate.
Hollywood and the industry will always do what it does. And I’m over people bitching about it. I just find it irritating when these people talk like we don’t know shit about the industry and how it works.
Thanks Billy , speak for yourself.
You are now officially a jack ass
you can put your mic down now,
You’re a terrible actor, or shall I say re-actor.
stick to doing voice overs.
Playing yourself isn’t acting. which is all the you do.
STFU and sit down ( just not on me, thanks )
And here is one of the right wing troll account’s screenames flying into a rage at the idea that LGBTQ people may get a few jobs.
This person is the 17 person Cam has attacked. Can we the Moderators investigate Cam’s allegations that everyone who has a different opinion must be a Russian spy troll? Please.
I hate when they use ” comedian” and Billy Eicher in the se sentence…
If the majority of your post is focused on attacking Billy then you’re inevitably gonna come off like a troll, even if that’s not your intention. How you feel about Billy should have little to do with this topic. Besides the overt trolls, there seems to be a lot of “queers” obsessed with not wanting to be victims. Therefore, they don’t like to acknowledge the bs. And I do get that instinct. However, even if you don’t believe that identity or representation should be one of the first things thought of when it comes to casting, claiming that casting is mostly about who’s best for the role is just a naive perspective. While the amount of folks not wanting to acknowledge biases, glass ceilings and double standards is quite disturbing. But I guess it just shows how prevalent internalized phobias, queer insecurities, gay inferiority complexes, hetero worship are, even among many out queers.
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