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Adam Lambert clarifies comments to White Lotus’ Theo James over George Michael biopic rumours

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Adam Lambert George Michael Theo James

Adam Lambert has clarified his comments about the prospect of Theo James taking on the role of pop icon George Michael in a future biopic.

On Wednesday (18 January), Lambert responded to a report of the rumoured casting on Instagram, he wrote: “Yay another straight man playing a gay icon” alongside a single eye-roll emoji to express his frustration.

But yesterday (21 January) at Sundance Film Festival, where he’s promoting coming-of-age drama Fairyland, Lambert was asked to address his comments. 

A Variety reporter asked: “Adam, you recently had some choice words about straight actors playing gay people with regards to Theo James potentially tackling George Michael. Explain.”

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Lambert responded: “My actual comment – my little sarcastic comment on it – was [about] a straight actor playing a gay icon, which I think is a bit different.

“I by no means think gay characters should only be played by gay actors. I think that would be ridiculous.

“Case in point: Scoot’s brilliant performance in this film, which is incredibly moving and soulful. I don’t imagine anyone else playing this part.” 

Fairyland follows a young girl who recounts growing up in San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s with her gay dad, Steve Abnott, who is played by Scoot McNairy. 

Lambert continued: “I just think, as a queer person, so many doors have been closed to us for so long, it’s a big step forward that these stories are at least now being told, but I hope that in the future you would also see an out actor be able to tackle a leading role.

“You haven’t really seen that very often.”

George Michael (1963-2016) pictured during the Japanese/Australasian leg of his Faith World Tour.
George Michael (1963-2016) pictured during the Japanese/Australasian leg of his Faith World Tour. (Michael Putland/Getty)

Lambert added: “To the naysayers who are like, ‘oh, it’s acting’, what about the other way around, are you saying that gay actors should only play gay actors?

“You look at Kristen Stewart playing Diana, and that was a brilliant performance as well [but] we don’t have that many examples of queer people playing non-queer icons.

“I just want some equal opportunity that’s all.”

Conversation around the idea of The White Lotus star playing the pop singer and gay icon kicked off when the actor appeared on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.

When asked whether he would like to play Michael in the “inevitable” biopic, James enthusiastically replied: “Oh, yeah! I’d love that.”

Fans of both George Michael and the Divergent star appear conflicted about the idea. While some agree that James would be the “perfect” casting, others are wondering if a George biopic is really necessary at all.

Debate over LGBT+ roles being taken by straight, cis actors

Lambert’s Instagram post referred to the trend of gay icons being played by heterosexual actors in screen adaptations of their lives, which recently included Taron Egerton playing Elton John in Rocketman and Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.

He is not the first to voice his frustration at straight, cis actors being cast for gay roles, with British actor Ben Whishaw also doing so. 

In an interview with The Guardian, the soft-spoken gay actor shared his thoughts on Eddie Redmayne’s controversial lead role in The Danish Girl.

He said he simply “does not believe” straight actors who play queer roles. 

Similarly, Russell T Davies has said he wants “authentic” gay representation in TV shows.

Glee star Darren Criss has also waded in on the ongoing debate and told the Independent he’s been “s**t on” for taking numerous LGBTQ+ roles. 

“This is a really tough one because, let’s just say, I’ve been s**t on,” he said. 

But filmmaker Aaron Sorkin has said that he believes casting only gay actors as queer characters is an “empty gesture” and a “bad idea”.

“Nouns aren’t actable. Gay and straight aren’t actable. You can act being attracted to someone, but can’t act gay or straight.

“So this notion that only gay actors should play gay characters? That only a Cuban actor should play Desi? Honestly, I think it’s the mother of all empty gestures and a bad idea,” he shared in an interview with the Sunday Times Culture magazine.

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