Good Morning Britain hosts tired debate on whether straight actors should play gay roles

Still from good morning britain debate on straight actors playing gay roles.

Breakfast show Good Morning Britain has sparked a wave of online discourse after hosting a tired debate on whether only LGBTQ+ actors should play LGBTQ+ roles.

The question of whether straight actors should play LGBTQ+ roles has been asked thousands of times, with many Hollywood actors in disagreement over the issue.

Stars including Cate Blanchett, Luke Evans, and Ian McKellan have all suggested that sexuality is irrelevant when it comes to casting roles, while others, including RuPaul’s Drag Race icon Willam and musician Adam Lambert, have shared why they think some queer roles should only be performed by queer people.

Adding fuel to the ceaselessly burning fire, Good Morning Britain hosts Susanna Reid and former Labour politician Ed Balls questioned two actors on Monday (15 May), asking for their thoughts on the contentious topic.

LGBTQ+ actor Aidan Moreno, who is currently starring in Netflix’s Heartland, explained his view that “representation should be the truest voice of the marginalised community,” and therefore, gay people should be cast in gay roles.

“Historically, gay and LGBTQ+ people have been underrepresented in Hollywood,” he said.

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“Now that we are turning that around, I feel like we need to make sure that the voice, whether in the writer’s room or the casting process, especially in positions of power … is authentic as possible.”

“I think we’re coming to a point where we realise when the writing is done or we see something onscreen, it needs to be authentic, as in, from a gay person’s perspective.

“How true of a form of representation is that for that gay kid watching at home?”

Hollyoaks actor Jeremy Edwards, however, rejected the notion that LGBTQ+ roles should be handed to LGBTQ+ actors, suggesting that the concept is an example of “positive discrimination”.

“Positive discrimination already exists out there and I don’t think it’s healthy. I’m not resentful at all, but it can build resentment,” he said, adding that he was once turned down for the role of a gay man because he was “too well known as a straight actor”.

Edwards then went on to argue that LGBTQ+ roles should be played exclusively by LGBTQ+ people, if their queerness is “the most defining thing about the character”.

Using Taron Egerton’s portrayal of Elton John in 2019 biopic Rocketman as an example, Edwards said the casting of a straight man in a gay role didn’t matter, as “Elton John’s most defining character is his talent as a singer and a songwriter”.

He went on to suggest that a role such as Tom Hanks’ Andy Beckett in 1993 legal drama Philadelphia, which explicitly addresses homophobia during the height of the AIDS crisis, would today be played by a gay man – something that Hanks himself agrees with.

“But to say that only gay actors can play gay roles is slightly naive,” Edwards concluded.

While the pair’s discussion was relatively polite and mild-mannered, the same can’t be said about the online discourse that transpired, with trolls swiftly spiralling into a furious rage at Moreno’s opinion.

It remains to be seen whether the LGBTQ+ actors and roles discourse will ever come to an end.