BY Brandon Voss
December 13 2009 1:10 PM ET
Young American actors sometimes shy away from gay parts for fear of being pigeonholed or mistaken for gay in real life. As a British actor, is that something you’ve ever been concerned about?
I’ve never looked at those kinds of roles as something to be avoided. I somehow ended up doing three in a row, really, with Brideshead, Watchmen, and A Single Man, so I steadily got more gay. I was “full gay” in this one. But the parts were all so good. I wouldn’t do a bad story with a character that was just gay for gay’s sake — which sounds like a porno, which I’m not particularly into. But I know what you mean about Americans. There’s a real problem with masculinity and sensitivity in Hollywood. I don’t blame actors for not coming out because America might then have a problem with watching them kissing Cameron Diaz. And then there are certain actors who don’t want people to think, I wonder if he’s really gay, because he did terribly well in that gay part. America’s a slightly harder country, where men are constantly trying to be men. And it’s not just Hollywood; everyone goes to the gym.
You’re certainly not shy about your showing off your gym-toned physique in films.
Yes, I’m always asked to get my bum out, but in this one I was fully clothed throughout, really.
Are you forgetting the black-and-white nude photograph of Jim that George retrieves from his safety deposit box?
Oh, shit, that’s true! That was taken on the first day of filming. We had a female photographer on set, so I was like, “Oh, bloody hell.” We went off into the desert and Tom came too, because he has to micromanage every part of the film — at least that’s what I told myself. He was like, “Matthew, could you possibly give us a bit more pubic hair?” I was like, “What?! Oh, come on!” But it was nice that they caught me in a moment when I was finding it all quite funny, so it’s a slightly goofy photograph, which seems more naturalistic than some brooding shot where I’ve done a million press-ups before and look inflated.
Where’s that photo now?
Tom probably has it locked up in a bank somewhere, I would imagine.
Before casting you in A Single Man, was Tom a fan of yours from seeing your other films?
I think he’d seen Brideshead at some point, but I never really asked, just in case someone would bring something up and he’d go, “Oh, Christ, yeah, I did see that, and you’re actually not right for the part.” I never like delving into why a director wants me.
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