Acting out

Richard E. Grant says giving gay roles to straight actors is “unjustifiable”

Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

British actor Richard E. Grant was weighed in on the debate about LGBTQ roles going to straight or cis-gender actors. In an interview with the Sunday Times, the actor, who is heterosexual, said he had concerns at being cast for gay roles over gay actors.

“I’ve always had that concern. The transgender movement and the #MeToo movement means, how can you justify heterosexual actors playing gay characters?

“We are in a historic moment. If you want someone to play a disabled role, that should be a disabled actor… I understand why and how [the current change of mood has] come about.”

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Grant will next hit screens playing a villain in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which is out later this month.


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Despite the scowl, am absolutely thrilled to be in @starwars ❤️❤️ #riseofskywalker #starwars

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He was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of a gay man, Jack Hock, in the 2018 movie, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, opposite Melissa McCarthy. He is soon to play the role of “aging drag queen” Loco Chanel in the hit West End musical, Everyone’s Talking About Jamie (due in theaters October 2020).

Despite appearing to now have reservations about playing gay roles, he praised Timothée Chalamet’s Oscar-nomination performance in 2017 movie, Call Me By Your Name.

“What’s extraordinary about Timothée Chalamet is that he has such an androgynous quality. Of all the actors out there, he is the most gender-fluid of them all.”

Related: Oscar Isaac’s latest take on his ‘Star Wars’ character has gay fans going into hyperspace

His comments are similar to those made by American actor Darren Criss, who won awards for his portrayal of the gay serial killer, Andrew Cunanan, in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

Following that show’s success, the actor – who also played a gay role in Glee – told Bustle magazine he would not take on further LGBTQ roles: “I want to make sure I won’t be another straight boy taking a gay man’s role.”

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