Ewan McGregor has spoken out in defense of playing a gay character, famed fashion designer Halston, in the upcoming Netflix miniseries.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the trade magazine asked the straight actor to respond to a quote from gay Pose star Billy Porter: “Straight men playing gay — everyone wants to give them an award.”
In response, McGregor said, “If it had been a story about Halston’s sexuality more, then maybe it’s right that gay actors should play that role. But in this case — and I don’t want to sound like I’m worming out of this, because it’s something I did think a lot about — I suppose, ultimately, I felt like it was just one part of who he was.”
This would not be the first time the Halston star has played gay. He did so previously in 1998's Velvet Goldmine and 2009's I Love You Phillip Morris.
McGregor's remarks come at a time of increased debate over authentic LGBTQ+ casting. James Corden was almost universally panned for his "gayface" flamboyant performance in The Prom — which, like Halston, is a Ryan Murphy production with Netflix.
In a cover story with The Advocate, Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci defended their casting as lovers in Supernova; Firth said actors stepping into the shoes of others can foster "a positive experience of commonality, which perhaps would have been undiscovered otherwise.”
However, Porter speaks truth. Historically, out actors were less likely to be cast in starring roles, even gay ones, as this list of 61 straight people who received Oscar nominations for LGBTQ+ roles attests.
Halston, which is out May 14 on Netflix, was created by Sharr White; the five-episode miniseries was directed by Dan Minahan and executive produced by Christine Vachon, who are both queer. It follows the rise of the global fashion brand of Halston (McGregor) — known for designing Jacqueline Kennedy's pillbox hat — who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1990. Last week, the production released some scintillating Polaroid shots of the cast as a teaser.