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The stars who went gay for pay

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Bafta TV Awards winners: Killing Eve's supporting actress Fiona Show, writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge and leading actress Jodie Comer.

Films are an important voice for a lot of LGBT people as they offer vital representation in society. Actors do an important job of starring as our favourite characters in films.

However, very few LGBT roles are filled by openly LGBT actors. Actors who are open about their sexuality are struggling to carve a successful career path for themselves – a fact that is not helped by their heterosexual counterparts filling up roles that some might argue should be reserved for them.

PinkNews has compiled all a list of all the Hollywood stars who have gone “gay for pay” on the big screen. We’ve also explored the gay actors who have made a name for themselves playing it straight.

1. Ewan McGregor in ‘I love You Phillip Morris’

Ewan McGregor as Phillip Morris in "I Love You Phillip Morris"
Ewan McGregor as Phillip Morris in “I Love You Phillip Morris” (Photo by LD Entertainment / Roadside Attractions)

Ewan McGregor plays Phillip Morris in the film. The pair shares a rollercoaster love story about prison breaks, forgiveness and ill health.

After they are both released, Russell is cause embezzling and the pair are sent back to prison. Morris is enraged by his actions and tells him that he does not want to see him again.

He later learnt that Russell is dying of AIDS-related complications, and he phoned him to tell him that he is still mad but still loves him.

Russell later “dies”, but this is just another hoax so that he could get out and see Morris once more.

2. Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘The Imitation Game’

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in "The Imitation Game"
Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game” (Photo by The Weinstein Company)

Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing in the loose biographical film about the gay mathematician who deciphered the enigma code during the war.

The biographical film follows Turing from being bullied in school to finally finding his feet when he develops a friendship with Christopher Morcom, who introduces him to cryptography.

As Turing becomes an expert at the art, he also develops romantic feelings for Morcom but he dies suddenly and unexpectedly from tuberculosis.

Turing starts work at Bletchley Park after Britain declares war on Germany in 1939, and begins to work on the infamous Enigma machine which helps to break the Nazi’s code.

In the 1950s Turing is convicted of indecency and forced to undergo chemical castration. The film ends as one of his colleagues visits him and sees his physical and mental deterioration.

3. James Wilby in ‘Maurice’

Maurice and Durham’s relationship grows closer as Maurice drops out of Cambridge to pursue a career as a stockbroker in London.

However, they break their relationship off after their close friend Lord Risley is arrested and sentenced to six months hard labour for soliciting sex from a soldier.

Maurice undergoes gay “conversion” therapy but it is, obviously, unsuccessful and Maurice meets Alec Scudder who he becomes intimate with.

The two flee England to live in a country where homosexuality is no longer criminalised.

4. Meryl Streep in ‘The Hours’

Meryl Streep as Clarissa Vaughan in "The Hours"
Meryl Streep as Clarissa Vaughan in “The Hours” (Photo by Paramount Pictures)

Streep stars in the early 2000’s film as a lesbian, Clarissa Vaughan. Vaughan is the title character of the novel which the film is based off.

The film focuses on the stories of three different generations of women but Vaughan’s story is about her caring for a close friend and former lover who has contracted HIV and is dying of AIDS-related complications.

It centres around her planning a party for him in his last days.

5. River Phoenix in ‘My Own Private Idaho’

River Phoenix as Mike Waters in "My Own Private Idaho"
River Phoenix as Mike Waters in “My Own Private Idaho” (Photo by Fine Line Features)

Phoenix stars as gay hustler Mike Waters in My Own Private Idaho, which an adaptation of a series of Shakespeare novels.

His character, Mike, suffers from narcolepsy and we follow his journey as he travels across the US from Oregon to Idaho in the search for his estranged mother.

He takes the journey with his close friend Scott, and as they travel Mike behind to fall in love with him.

Their journey takes them to Italy, where Mike’s mother has migrated to search for her own family. While there, Mike realises that his mother has returned to the US but Scott falls in love with a woman. Mike returns to the US without him.

6. Tom Hanks in ‘Philadelphia’

Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in "Philadelphia"
Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in “Philadelphia” (Photo by Clinica Estetico)

Tom Hanks plays Andrew Beckett, a closeted gay lawyer who is a senior associate at one of the largest corporate law firms in the city.

While balancing his secret and professional lives, Beckett contracts AIDS.

Beckett is later fired and he believes that someone in his firm sabotaged him because of the diagnosis, and so he launches a lawsuit against the firm.

During the trial, he becomes weaker and is eventually hospitalised but the jury decides to rule in his favour and £5 million in damages is paid out to him. Hanks won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role.

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