Hollywood studios accused of ‘shutting out’ gay actors

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Hollywood studios have been accused of “shutting out” openly gay actors.

Last month, Rupert Everett, who is gay, claimed that straight actors were taking over gay roles, while veteran actor Richard Chamberlain said it would be safer for gay actors to stay in the closet.

Now, US commentator Ramin Setoodeh has reignited the row by saying that Hollywood “doesn’t even allow gay actors to play gay”.

Setoodeh, who is gay, was condemned last April for claiming that gay actors could not convincingly play a straight leading man.

He wrote that gay Will & Grace actor Sean Hayes was “insincere” and “unintentionally camp” when playing a straight character in the play Promises, Promises.

In a new article for the Daily Beast, Setoodeh wrote that gay men could not even play gay characters because Hollywood shuts them out.

Referring to Colin Fifth in A Single Man and Julianne Moore and Annette Bening in The Kids Are Alright, he wrote: “You could say that’s why it’s called ‘acting’. But that’s little comfort to gay actors, who are routinely shut out of the studio system, even though Hollywood is supposedly one of the most ‘gay-friendly’ towns.

“Movies need to attract the broadest possible audience, and filmmakers worry that if they cast a gay person as a romantic lead, audiences will be too grossed out. Instead, straight actors get the roles, and everybody talks about how brave they are.”

After an extensive list of straight actors who played gay roles, he wrote: “The rationale for these casting decisions is a Catch-22. You could argue that no one gay is on the A-list, so Hollywood has to hire straight people to fill those roles.

“But it also has to do with something else. Society still shows a prejudice against gay people, especially those who fit the stereotype: feminine men and masculine women. If you’re willing to hide your sexuality, that’s another story.

“Rock Hudson did that for years, and as long as he didn’t tell, audiences wouldn’t ask, and he could continue playing the leading man. What do you think would have happened if he had walked the red carpet arm-in-arm with his boyfriend?”

Richard Chamberlain, who shot to fame as ‘Dr Kildare’, told The Advocate last month that it was still “dangerous” for a gay actor to come out.

The star, who came out ten years ago aged 69, said: “Despite all the wonderful advances that have been made, it’s still dangerous for an actor to talk about that in our extremely misguided culture. Look at what happened in California with Proposition 8. Please, don’t pretend that we’re suddenly all wonderfully, blissfully accepted.”

Meanwhile, Rupert Everett, who has frequently spoken about Hollywood’s attitude to homophobia, told BBC Radio 4: “A lot of straight actors are actively searching for gay roles because it is something different to do. I think that’s fine but that does mean the gay actor who used to just get to play the gay part – like me – has been reduced to drag really.”