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Richard E. Grant: 'How Can You Justify' Straight Actors Playing Gay?

Richard E. Grant

Richard E. Grant earned an Oscar nomination this year for portraying an HIV-positive gay man in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

However, Grant, who identifies as straight, told the Sunday Times Magazine that he believes the era of heterosexual actors taking gay roles should come to an end.

"I’ve always had that concern," said Grant, regarding straight actors using their privilege to take parts depicting marginalized people. "The transgender movement and the #MeToo movement means, how can you justify heterosexual actors playing gay characters?"

Grant said authentic representation has gained increased importance in the current political climate. "We are in a historic moment. If you want someone to play a disabled role, that should be a disabled actor. ... I understand why and how [the current mood has] come about."

Although Grant expressed strong opinions on the importance of representation, he also heaped praise on Timothée Chalamet, a straight actor who rose to international prominence after playing the gay role of Elio in Call Me by Your Name.

"What’s extraordinary about Timothée Chalamet is that he has such an androgynous quality. Of all the actors out there, he is the most gender-fluid of them all," he said.

Grant will appear in the upcoming blockbuster Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, as well as the musical film, Everybody's Talking About Jamie, in which he portrays a drag queen named Hugo.

Grant's remarks echo those of Darren Criss, who vowed to never play a gay role again after his Golden Globe-winning performance in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace. “There are certain [queer] roles that I’ll see that are just wonderful,” Criss told Bustle. “But I want to make sure I won’t be another straight boy taking a gay man’s role.”

At least 59 straight actors have been nominated for Oscars for portraying LGBTQ roles. An out actor has never won for playing one.

Tags: film, Gender

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