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.
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.”
I think it’s funny how many straight UK actors freaked out of a single limited television series (It’s a Sin) that the directed cast all the gay roles with gay actors. As though there’s a shortage of roles from straight male actors.
Those who don’t understand the foundational concept of “acting” probably aren’t deep thinkers. Sorry Adam, having a GREAT voice doesn’t make up for incongruent thinking.
Besides, we love superhero and cartoon movies. Are you going to demand that only real superheros and cartoon characters can be in those movies? Rolling my eyes. Next!
And you don’t understand the historical context of the complaints. For decades–a century even, openly gay actors were not considered for ANY roles, gay or straight. Casting directors and directors did not even consider an actor they knew to be gay.
The superhero comparison is silly because super heroes do not exist in real life. A better comparison would be and actor of color (who also weren’t considered for major roles even if it was a character of that ethnic background) or disabled actors who were not considered even for disabled characters.
@DBMC Exactly!! It’s sad that people STILL don’t get it… It has never been about the “concept of acting”.
And it’s never really been about casting the “best” actor. Often it’s about casting a name, even if the actor’s not right for the role.
It’s called “acting”, not “representing”. Until recently, gays and lesbians overwhemingly represented “Straights”. (Shakespear even used the term DRAG, and noted that many on stage were “poofs”, “bent” and “buggers”).
Are the whiners here also demanding reparations for straight actors for the centuries of entertainment when gays played straight?! It’s a silly concept taking “self-centered” into extreme naval gazing and monitoring sexual behaviors. They will be whining shortly when rethugs demand that only straight people play straight. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Let actors act. I suspect that those here with their undies in a bunch are the same tiny minority demanding comedian cancellation. “Live and let live” allowed us to emerge from the closet… why not honor it for others?
Rami Malek is STRAIGHT?
is there something you’d like to share with the class?
Of all the things facing our community today, which actors playing what roles should be at the very bottom of everyone’s list of things they give a f*ck about. We got bigger issues on us and heading our way and this sort of nonsense is distracting and ultimately doesn’t help move the conversation forward, only to isolate off allies we can’t afford to lose.
I 100% believe we need more representation in TV and cinema, but compared to 20 years ago, we are light years from where we were as nothing more than topical punch lines in sitcoms.
Totally agree. Also, as a gay amateur actor I have never played a gay role. Not bothered. I can play str8 roles as well, if not better than most str8 actors. And I very much enjoy it.
This “debate” is getting old, especially since so many people who broach this subject don’t talk about the real issues. No, only wanting to cast out queer actors to play queer doesn’t make a ton of sense and isn’t really feasible. It’s the entertainment industry. Almost half of those people, no matter what identities or lifestyles they present, have queer dimensions/are somewhere in the gender, sexual, affection, romantic, emotion, commitment spectrum. While casting directors shouldn’t be asking people about their sexual dimensions, identities, lifestyles, preferences, romantic history. “Sexuality”, identity, relationships, the spectrum are too specific and personal to try to make some blanket rule. And there should not be pressure to have to publicly embrace a particular identity to get a role. That’ll just lead to even more resentment and manipulation.
The issue is actors using “gayness” to uplift their careers and chase awards. The issue is the entitlement some people feel because they consider themselves “allies”. The issue is the industry’s still thriving closet pressures, non-homo worship, internalized phobias, femme-phobia. The issue is the industry’s casting bias.
Whether “straight” actors are capable of playing “gay” and whether someone is or isn’t an “ally” isn’t the core aspect of the discussion. Yet, people keep trying to make it so.
Playing Str8 has gotten many a gay actor awards.
Leo- name them. Which openly gay actor has gotten an award for playing straight? I’ll be even more specific, which openly gay actor has gotten an Oscar for playing ANY role?
If you’re using ”winning an Oscar” as a benchmark…um, you will one day discover that awards don’t mean a thing, if you know what I mean. XO
my point has been proven, there’s NO “Playing Str8 has gotten many a gay actor awards” especially in Oscars.
If only gay actors played gay rolls and only straight actors played straight rolls that would really limit the opportunities for all actors.
not really because right now only straight actors play gay roles and straight actors overwhelmingly play straight roles as well
Mr. Alfred Hitchc0ck’s film ROPE is a great example where gay men were cast as gay men. It’s also his most delicious film, IMHO.
To me, this also would bring up the counter argument: If we should only consider gay actors for gay roles, then should we also only consider straight actors for straight roles? I realize that historically, an out, gay actor wouldn’t get any role, but we’ve progressed beyond that.
It’s called “acting” for a reason. A gay person may not be acting playing a “gay” role because he would end just playing himself. Does that mean we only hire murderers to play that role? Or a witch to play that role, or a troll to play that role? I agree that “out” members of the LGBTQ community don’t get the role they should because they’re “Out” and that’s on “Hollywood”.
Again. This came about because they wouldn’t hire gay actors at all. You seem to be arguing yourself into a knot. Saying “that’s on Hollywood” makes it seem like it’s insurmountable, it’s not. Your examples are silly because trolls don’t exist in real life (except on message boards).
Mack–then why isn’t it many LGBTQ actors playing straight roles? Name the last openly gay actor to win an Oscar.
The irony is that Dbmcvey is the troll here. He/She doesn’t understand that, calls for enforcement of sexual representation is exactly the problem that he DOESN’T want!!! It’s the foundation what he rails against in Hollywood’s history! Does he/she understand the irony?
LGBTQ actors would be excluded from most productions if their sexuality were the basis of casting. He/She needs to dip his toes into logic and reason. Try looking at issues from all sides before forming your opinion. Or in this case, try to understand the foundational concept of acting.
You guys HAVE to watch Matt Baume’s take on the subject, and my favorite filmaker.
The Secret Gay Love Affair Behind Alfred Hitchc ock’s Rope (youtube)
Premiered Jan 15, 2023
Alfred Hitchco ck’s 1948 film Rope is famous for how it was filmed: To look like one continuous scene playing out in real time with no cuts. But there’s something else that makes it an even more audacious film, which is the unstated fact that its main characters are a gay couple. Slipping queer characters past film censors in the 1940s was no easy task — and in fact, they nearly didn’t get away with it. And what Hitchc ock didn’t know is that during the making of he film, the writer was secretly having an affair with the leading man. Their clandestine romance lent a whole new level of real-life-danger behind the scenes of this iconic thriller. Because if their secret was discovered, they’d face the end of their careers — or much, much worse.
Also known as ”Hitchc o ck’s Homos”
I can’t understand why I can’t spell out my favorite directors’ name correctly AND IN FULL!!! No biggie, but I did have to say it.
I’ve noticed that there are a lot of words that will put one’s post into “review hell” because the letter sequence forms a “curse” word, even if it’s a word whose meaning is completely unrelated.
“Hitchc0ck” is one of those words that requires a work-around if you want your comment to be posted.
LOL! My comment agreeing with you is awaiting moderation! I can’t figure out which words did it.
Most regular TV and movie viewers have zero idea of the real issues behind this subject. I worked as a writer and producer for 30 years and on many projects that had gay characters. The first issue is that very often – even today – you cannot get a gay actor to play a gay role. They fear, perhaps reasonably, that it will out them and typecast them, and they’ll be stuck playing gay or just not working. So it’s only straight actors who will audition and take on the role. So if you’re going to insist on gay actors playing gay roles, the first consequence will be fewer gay roles because they’ll be harder to cast. And trust me the few very out, very activist gay actors who would be open to any role are not the best actors. There’d be embarrassment all round.
Absolutely! I don’t necessarily have an issue with straight actors playing gay roles but I think we need to address the fact that gay actors were just not cast at all–and often times still aren’t considered.
Embarrassment? Do tell!
@Joshooeerr: thank you for further dimensionalizing the subject. So many of these issues are more complex than cultish, with-us-or-against-us reasoning allows for.
We have a disparity where straight actors are playing straight and gay roles, and LGBT actors aren’t represented either way
Which prominent gay actors should have played Elton John instead of Egerton? These arguments have to weigh star power as well, and the fact that most LGBT actors have played a lot of straight roles. Yes, that was likely out of necessity, and yes, there’s a chicken and the egg thing going when it comes to LGBT actors getting enough exposure to have star power to compete with most straight actors.
It’s still an artistic profession where at the end of the day we do not want to see LGBT actors pigeonholed as only playing LGBT characters. I understand the frustration, but even with D&I on the rise, there will never be enough LGBT roles to go around, that’s just simple logic. This debate is played out and self-defeating. All that should matter is that more LGBT artists feel comfortable coming out and aren’t discriminated against after they do so.
Adam Lambert, John Barrowman, Gavin Creel and even Lance Bass to name a few are prominent gay actors who could’ve played Elton. Most LGBTQ actors aren’t represented in the film industry, and they really are not represented in leading roles in film. LGBT characters aren’t being represented especially in film playing gay OR straight roles. When I can list over 10 straight actors playing LGBTQ roles and getting awarded for it, but I can’t name a single openly LGBTQ actor playing ANY role and getting awarded for it, there is a problem. We need to progress as society. we’re not there yet.