Andrew Scott on casting gay actors in gay roles: ‘We have to look at the story we’re telling’

Andrew Scott reflects on gay actors getting cast in gay roles.

Irish actor Andrew Scott shared his candid reflections on why he doesn’t “love the idea” of only gay people getting cast as gay characters.

The 47-year-old actor can soon be seen in filmmaker Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers opposite Paul Mescal. The feature length film – coming out in the UK in the new year – follows screenwriter Adam who is drawn back to his family home to reconnect with the ghosts of his late parents (played by Claire Foy and Jamie Bell) who died in a tragic accident thirty years earlier.

Based on Taichi Yamada’s 1987 novel, Strangers, this haunting fantasy romance explores themes around grief, coming out and loneliness, as Adam and his neighbour Harry (Mescal) seek solace in one another.

The film has Adam’s experiences as a gay man set at the heart of the film and Haigh (Weekend) has previously admitted he cast Scott knowing he would be able to do draw on his own identity as a gay man.

“I’m not one of those people that say you have to be queer to play queer roles, but it was important to me in this case,” Haigh told Hollywood Reporter in October. “Because there’s so much nuance that I was trying to get to, I didn’t want to have an endless conversation with somebody who’s trying to understand it.”

Now, Fleabag star Andrew Scott has shared his own thoughts the conversation in a new interview with Screendaily.

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“We spoke an awful lot about our own experiences, and our own times of growing up in the early ’90s, so I could feel so much in relation to my own pain or joy,” Scott said about working with Haigh.

Determined to bring “as much as of [himself] as possible”, the film ended being a “a real catharsis” for Scott, as he revealed.

But for Scott growing up as a gay man, he never thought it would be possible to play a leading man the film industry, making this role all the more meaningful. Although, for Scott he makes clear that his sexuality should never be the reason he is cast.

“As much as I feel like representation is important, so is transformation,” he explained.

“I don’t love the idea of being cast for something purely for my own sexuality — you’re not just playing ‘gay’, you’re playing the attributes of the character. I don’t want a totalitarian regime — we have to look at each individual story we’re telling and what’s right for that.”

This reasoning makes sense since his co-star, Mescal has never publicly come out as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Paul Mescal (L) and Andrew Scott (R) in All of Us Strangers.
Andrew Scott has spoken about how acting helped him to eradicate any sense of shame and confidently come out. (Searchlight Pictures)

In an exclusive interview with PinkNews, Haigh spoke about casting the “brilliant” Normal People star at the London Film Festival premiere.

“Who wouldn’t want Paul Mescal as their boyfriend? Let’s face it, anybody would want Paul Mescal as their boyfriend. But also he’s a fantastic actor and I knew he would understand the role and he’s just brilliant.”

I love them both [Scott and Mescal], I think they are brilliant actors but it’s about how they work together,” Haigh continued. “They completely understood their individual characters. And seeing them together, there was just chemistry inherent in their relationship. My job is just enhancing [that].”

The film is set to wow audiences and has already received a plethora of rave critic reviews. It also steeped at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) last week, landing a whopping seven awards.

All of Us Strangers arrives in UK cinemas on 26 January, 2024.

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