Hollywood has taken heat for casting straight actors in the roles of LGBTQ characters, yet Cate Blanchett is coming to the defence of heterosexual actors portraying gay and transgender characters, and vice versa — because playing characters beyond their realm of experience is what actors are supposed to do.
“I will fight to the death for the right to suspend disbelief and play roles beyond my experience,” said the two-time Oscar winner during a Q&A at the Rome Film Festival, reports BBC News.
“Reality television and all that that entails had an extraordinary impact, a profound impact on the way we view the creation of character,” continued Blanchett, 49.
“I think it provides a lot of opportunity, but the downside of it is that we now, particularly in America, we expect and only expect people to make a profound connection to a character when it’s close to their experience,” she added.
The latest controversy involved Scarlett Johansson’s casting as 1970s Pittsburgh crime boss Dante “Tex” Gill, who lived as a man but was born female; she ultimately pulled out of the project after being criticized by those who feel a transgender actor should have been cast in the role.
Johansson fired back by pointing to other actors who won great acclaim and assorted acting awards for playing trans characters. “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” she said.
As BBC News reports, Sir Ian McKellen — who is openly gay — has pointed out that no openly gay man has ever won an Oscar, while straight stars Tom Hanks and Sean Penn both won Best Actor awards for their performances as gay men in “Philadelphia” and “Milk”, respectively.
According to BBC News, 52 straight actors have received Oscar nominations for playing gay roles — including Blanchett, who received a 2016 Best Actress nod for playing a lesbian in “Carol”.