Saltburn’s Barry Keoghan says he and Jacob Elordi aren’t queerbaiting – they’re flirting

Barry Keoghan (left) and Jacob Elordi (right) smiling.

Barry Keoghan has denied he and Saltburn co-star Jacob Elordi aren’t ‘queerbaiting’ when they get up close and personal with each other – they’re really flirting.

Keoghan and Elordi star together in Emerald Fennell’s steamy queer thriler Saltburn, in which Keoghan plays an Oxford student who develops an intense obsession with Elorid’s rich boy character, Felix.

In one scene, Keoghan slurps from Elordi’s semen-laced bathwater.

Since buzz around the film began in the autumn, Keoghan and Elordi have been seen cosied up with one another, most notably at the film’s Los Angeles premiere, where the pair appeared to lean in for a kiss. They stopped before actually locking lips.

Other photos from various events and interviews show them in each other’s faces and grabbing onto one another.

Some fans have since called their actions ‘queerbaiting’ – a term which refers to queer characters being introduced into media but their sexuality remains ambiguous – in response to the couple’s affection for one another. 

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Used correctly, the term only refers to fictional characters, and can cause harm when applied to real life people. In 2022, Kit Connor was forced to reveal he is bisexual after being accused of queerbaiting for taking the role of bisexual rugby lad Nick Nelson in Heartstopper.

Jacob Elordi and Barry Keoghan at the premiere of Saltburn in Los Angeles.
Jacob Elordi and Barry Keoghan. (Getty/Variety)

Now, 31-year-old Keoghan has had his say on why he and Elordi appear to be flirting, despite both actors never having declared themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

And honestly, it’s quite simple. “I’m really flirtin’, ” Keoghan told GQ.

“We were constantly close… It ain’t just for the cameras and the premiere[s]. Me and Jacob – he’s like a brother to me, honestly. I think when you’re comfortable with someone, you can be as close as you want, you know what I mean?

It’s not like, ‘Oh, don’t come near me’ – it’s like, I’m comfortable. When I’m comfortable around people, I’m comfy.”

Keoghan went on to admit that he didn’t have any such flirtatious relationships with other boys when growing up.

“But I’m comfortable with Jacob. Messin’ about. Havin’ a laugh. We’re bein’ lads,” he continued.

“We’ve just done a movie where we had to kiss, man. Look at the scenes we’ve done. You have to be comfortable with yourself.”

In the final version of Saltburn, the two actors are never seen kissing – and the fact that a version exists where they do has sent the film’s fans into a frenzy.

Saltburn is streaming now on Prime Video.