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Tom Hanks wouldn’t play gay lead in Philadelphia today: ‘We’re beyond that’

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A close-up photo of actor Tom Hanks at the 2017 People's Choice Awards

Tom Hanks doesn’t think he would be able to play his gay character in the groundbreaking film Philadelphia if it was released today – and he’s totally fine with that. 

The 66-year-old played gay associate Andrew Beckett in the 1993 drama, which sees the character fired from his law firm due to his sexuality and the fact that he has AIDS.

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Despite the film earning Hanks his first ‘Best Actor’ Oscar and becoming one of the most successful films of the year, Hanks thinks that it would be seen as ‘inauthentic’ if he were to take on the role now. 

Speaking to The New York Times Magazine, Hanks reflected on his past films including Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, and whether they would be considered acceptable in today’s society.

“Could a straight man do what I did in Philadelphia now? No, and rightly so,” he said.

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The film, which will be 30 years old next year, is widely regarded as one of the first Hollywood blockbusters to address the reality of homophobia and the AIDS crisis.

Tom Hanks at the premiere of Philadelphia in December 1993. (Getty/Ron Galella)

“The whole point of Philadelphia was don’t be afraid,” Hanks explained. “One of the reasons people weren’t afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man… we’re beyond that now, and I don’t think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy.”

Hanks suggested that in today’s day and age, audiences want to see film studios casting roles a bit more authentically.

“It’s not a crime, it’s not boohoo, that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity,” he added.

The debate around whether straight people should be playing LGBTQ+ roles on screen has raged on with increasing intensity over the last couple of years. 

Actors including Sir Ian McKellan, Andrew Scott and Julianna Margulies have previously defended LGBTQ+ roles being given to straight actors, while the likes of Darren Criss and Ben Whishaw have spoken out about the inauthenticity of non-LGBTQ+ people playing LGBTQ+ characters.

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