Stanley Tucci weighs in on debate over straight actors playing gay roles: ‘An actor is an actor’

Stanley Tucci at the UK premiere of The Little Mermaid, wearing a green suit and red tie with black rimmed glasses.

The Hunger Games actor Stanley Tucci has shared his opinion on the seemingly never-ending debate over whether straight actors should play LGBTQ+ roles.

It’s a question that has haunted the casting rooms of Hollywood for what feels like decades now, without anything resembling a resolution.

Should LGBTQ+ actors get right of way when it comes to taking on queer roles, or should heterosexual actors also be able to shine as LGBTQ+ characters?

Most of the argument focuses on whether it’s more authentic for people with lived experience of being LGBTQ+ to play LGBTQ+ roles. Others argue that queer people should take precedence for queer roles due to Hollywood’s poor track record when it comes to hiring LGBTQ+ actors.

It’s a debate that practically all of your favourite celebrities have been asked about or voiced their opinion on – even to the point that British breakfast show Good Morning Britain recently ran an entire segment on it.

Lord of the Rings actor Ian McKellen has previously defended the right of straight actors to play gay, while It’s A Sin and Doctor Who creator Russell T Davies thinks LGBTQ+ people should take priority when it comes to queer roles, previously saying “it’s about authenticity”.

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Ugly Betty star Michael Urie, RuPaul’s Drag Race star Willam, and Dear Evan Hansen‘s Ben Platt are just some of the other LGBTQ+ actors who believe that queer roles should be offered to queer actors first and foremost.

Yet, the list of stars who think the opposite is a little longer. Cate Blanchett, arguably best known for her lesbian roles in 2015’s Carol and this year’s Tár, has previously explained that she doesn’t understand the “obsession with labels” when it comes to selecting roles.

Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett at the 2023 Oscars. (Getty)

Musician Adam Lambert, fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier, Gentleman Jack star Suranne Jones have all voiced their thoughts on why straight actors should be able to play gay roles.

Now, two-time Golden Globe winner Stanley Tucci has joined the latter camp, explaining why he firmly believes that it’s “fine”.

Speaking to radio DJ Lauren Laverne on BBC’s Desert Island Discs, Tucci, 62, suggested that the “whole point” of acting is playing a part that doesn’t reflect your own life experiences.

“I am always very flattered when gay men come up to me and talk about my role in The Devil Wears Prada or they talk about Supernova, and they say: ‘It was just so beautiful, you did it the right way’,” he shared.

“Because often it is not done the right way. But I really do believe an actor is an actor. As an actor that you are supposed to play different people. You just are, that’s the whole point of it.”

The actor, who married literary agent Felicity Blunt in 2012, played gay art director Nigel Kipling in Meryl Streep’s 2006 cult classic The Devil Wears Prada.

In 2020, he took on the role of Tusker Mulliner, a gay amateur astronomer with dementia in romantic drama film Supernova, alongside Colin Firth.

At the time, Firth shared his own thoughts on the endless debate, saying that he doesn’t “have a final position” on it.

“I think the question is still alive. It’s something I take really seriously, and I gave it a lot of thought before doing this,” Firth said.

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