Glenn Close: Hollywood bosses should ‘go out of their way’ to cast trans actors

Glenn Close, who was once nominated for an Oscar for playing a man, has said that Hollywood needs to start casting transgender actors.

The Albert Nobbs star weighed in after a number of projects with cisgender actors playing trans roles caused controversy.

Glenn Close (Christopher Polk/Getty)

Scarlett Johansson dropped out of the film Rub and Tug on July 13 after widespread anger at reports she would play real-life trans man Dante ‘Tex’ Gill on screen.

The Avengers star was initially defensive of the film, but opted to walk away from the project, endorsed the casting of a trans star to replace her.

Speaking to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Glenn Close agreed that transgender actors are not being given a fair amount of work in Hollywood despite an increasing focus on their lives on-screen.

She said: “My thinking right now is that people who are producing and directing properties like that need to go out of their way to get trans actors jobs.

“I certainly understand the need for those who are the same as the character they are casting. Hopefully, that will happen.”

She then added: “But they also should have the opportunity to cast the best person. Acting is a craft.

“I think personally that anyone should be able to play anyone. To me that’s the real thing, that everybody could play everybody.

“But I understand why they are so passionate, because this hasn’t happened.”

Glenn Close (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Clase Azul)

Close herself is one of many cisgender stars who has picked up major acclaim and awards for playing someone of a different sex.

The star was cast as a 19th century transgender butler in 2011 release Albert Nobbs, though she continues to deny the character identified as transgender, referring to them female pronouns.

Close said: “Some people think she’s trans or she’s a lesbian, but she’s neither of those things. I always thought of her as a woman who is in disguise.

“I never thought of her as a guy and I never thought of her as trying to be a guy. I think she changed her voice just to blend in. What she would have been if she had a loving relationship? I don’t know.”

The film landed Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.

US actress Glenn Close (ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty)

A number of major Hollywood companies recently backed an effort to ensure “genuine” transgender representation in Hollywood.

An open letter signed by a string of major production companies and talent agencies calls for a new approach to trans inclusion.

The letter, headed by transgender people in the industry, calls on people to “Hollywood to use its power to improve the lives of trans people” by telling trans stories “authentically” with trans actors and creatives.

It is backed by major talent agencies CAA, UTA, and WME and signed by the production companies of big-name creators including Ryan Murphy, Judd Apatow, Shonda Rhimes, Greg Berlanti, Jill Soloway and JJ Abrams.

The letter adds: “We believe that we are at an unprecedented cultural moment – a moment when we can ask Hollywood to use its power to improve the lives of trans people by changing America’s understanding about who trans people are. We want to help you tell our stories – and we need your help to do it.

“This is about more than diversity and inclusion. It’s about empowering trans people and sharing with us the tools and access that have been offered to you throughout your career.

“It’s about offering people who are different from you the confidence and the sense of belonging that inspires the very best art.

“We know Hollywood is a business, as well as a creative community. We are not asking you to stop making money.

“We are asking to be brought to the table, so that our knowledge, talent, and stories can help improve your work and increase its value.”

An attached guide cautions against casting major cisgender stars as trans people in projects.

It says: “The world is evolving, and today it is a mistake, especially if you are cross-sex casting (a cis man to play a trans woman, or a cis woman to play a trans man.) It simply isn’t cost effective to take this risk; recent projects which cast cis actors to play trans roles have felt the tide of public opinion turn against them and have taken a hit at the box office.”