gay for pay

Taron Egerton weighs in on the debate over straight actors playing gay roles

Taron Egerton in 2019
Taron Egerton (Photo: Shutterstock)

British actor Taron Egerton has responded to a question about straight actors playing gay roles.

Egerton, 33, played Elton John in the music biopic, Rocketman. He also played gay in the recent London theatre production, Cock. However, he left the run early for personal reasons.

Promoting his new movie, Tetris, Egerton spoke to The Telegraph.

He was asked about the issue of straight actors taking on gay roles and said, “I grew up in a very liberal town, and a couple of my close friends are gay. I feel an affinity with that community,” he said.

“I don’t particularly feel that there should be a blanket rule about whether straight actors should play gay roles. That’s very easy for me to say as a straight man, but I think that’s possibly a precedent not worth setting.”

Egerton collapsed on stage during the opening night of Cock in London’s West End in March 2022. He went on to contact Covid-19 and missed several performances, before withdrawing from the show.

He later said a relative falling ill had been part of the reason. In his Telegraph interview, he indicated 2022 was one of the “most challenging” years of his life. It included him caring for his mom after she received a cancer diagnosis. Egerton was raised an only child by his mom after she split from his father.

James Bond

The interview also touched on the Kingsman franchise, in which Egerton plays a young, Bond-style character. He indicated another movie might be in the works. As for playing the real Bond, Egerton appeared to rule himself out to replace Daniel Craig.

Saying he’d had “zero phone calls” about the iconic role, he believed his height and build went against him.

“You have to be consistently statuesque to be that guy. And that’s something that I am still striving for. I’ve always struggled with my weight,” he said.

“[Bond] is a bit like being a brand ambassador as well as being an actor. And that could be really fun in microcosm, but I’m sure I read that Barbara Broccoli said that it’s a 15-year commitment.”

Several queer actors have criticized the casting of straight actors in gay roles in major studio movies. Most recently, Adam Lambert threw shade when a rumor went around about White Lotus actor Theo James potentially playing George Michael.

Beneath an Instagram news story posted by The Advocate about the potential casting, Lambert commented, “Yay another straight man playing a gay icon.” He also added an eye-roll emoji.

Lambert later clarified his stance, telling Queerty, “I think my comment in no way suggests that I feel straight actors can’t play gay roles, because I think they do it really well … there’s Rami [Malek] in Bohemian Rhapsody, Taron [Egerton] in Rocketman, and they were both great. And Theo James is a great actor, too! For me, the thing that I was trying to say is: It’s definitely a step in the right direction that these stories are being told, but I would just love to see an out actor play an out icon—it’d just be nice, because you don’t really see it.”