Despite the progress for women in Hollywood through the #MeToo movement, there’s still a huge way to go before the industry is inclusive in other areas, including race, disability and LGBTQI+ visibility.
Though there are now more stories focused on same-sex and trans romances, when it comes to those behind-the-scenes being happy to cast gay actors in straight roles, the stigma remains.
In a new interview, Kate Winslet accused powerful figures within the film industry of making it rife with “judgment, discrimination and homophobia”, suggesting those people in Hollywood needed their own #MeToo-style movement.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, the Oscar winner said she knows “at least four actors” who are “terrified” of coming out over concerns it could destroy their careers, and they live in “fear” that if they do, they will be typecast and no longer being considered for straight roles.
“I cannot tell you the number of young actors I know – some well known, some starting out – who are terrified their sexuality will be revealed and that it will stand in the way of their being cast in straight roles,” she said.
Winslet added she’s aware of “a well-known actor” who was recently instructed by their agent to keep their bisexuality a secret.
“The agent said: ‘I understand you are bisexual – I wouldn’t publicise that’,” Winslet said. “I can think of at least four actors absolutely hiding their sexuality. It’s painful. Because they fear being found out.”
Fleabag star Andrew Scott, a gay actor who played Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s love interest in the show’s second season, has been vocal about the fact that gay actors should be considered for all roles, including straight parts. Noting historically, casting directors have refused to cast out-gay actors as heterosexual characters.
“There hasn’t been a particularly level playing field with regards to who gets to play what,” he told Huffington Post in 2019. Scott added roles should be cast because of the actor’s chemistry, rather than their sexual preferences in real life.
“The most important thing is that you have a real chemistry with the person you’re playing opposite,” he explained, adding that the industry should avoid “identity casting” and that gay actors should “absolutely” be allowed to play straight roles.
“I think it’s dangerous territory to go down,” he continued. “Sometimes to think that we’re only allowed to play our own–not just our own sexuality, but our own nationality or identity–that we’re only allowed to… represent things that are within our experience. That’s not what audiences go to see.”
“When you go to see a play you’re thrilled that somebody is pretending to be somebody else, that’s the magic of it,” Scott explained “Otherwise it’s just a form of well-shot reality television.”