Do you feel a connection to the LGBT community?
I always have, perhaps because I’ve always felt like an outsider. I believe that actors and anyone in the arts should be outsiders, so that we can say whatever we want and hold a mirror up, as Shakespeare says, to what’s really going on in the world. We shouldn’t be within the pale of polite society. It’s a disaster that actors have become so respectable.
You’ve also spoken about the influence of your gay uncle and two gay godfathers.
Yes, I was brought up, partially, by these remarkable, intelligent, wonderful men, and they made me consider and question all moral systems from a very young age. They were the reason I rejected Christianity outright, because it said that homosexuality wasn’t allowed. I thought, That’s ridiculous! It’s perfectly normal, so what do you mean it isn’t allowed?
And now you have a loyal gay following.
Oh, and I love it. It’s a source of great pride and happiness. That support is very supportive, and my support in return is so profound and real.
Hugh Grant, your Sense and Sensibility and Love Actually costar, once referred to you on Oprah as “a bloke, for all intents and purposes,” with “a very blokish sense of humor — like a guy.” Is that an accurate assessment?
Well, I find that terrifically difficult stuff. Look, in a sense, he was trying to express approval, but what’s wrong with being feminine? What is he actually saying? The problem is that men have extreme difficulty with powerful women, who will immediately be dubbed masculine. I don’t accept that. Yes, I’m a powerful woman, but I don’t think I’m like a man at all. I don’t want to be a man. It’s not something that any person of my gender would wish, whether lesbian or straight. We’re women. I want to be allowed to be a powerful woman without being told that means I’m like a man.
Speaking to The Advocate for a 1995 cover story, you chose Michelle Pfeiffer as your fantasy on-screen lesbian love interest. Have your tastes changed?
After full-on snogging Meryl Streep in Angels in America, where do you go from there? We practically had sex, for God’s sake. [Laughs] Oh, there are so many beautiful women... Well, I met Sandy Bullock at an awards thing a couple years ago, and she said to me, “If I were gay, you’d be the one.” I said, “I’m there!”