“The Lion King” actor Billy Eichner wants to see more gay characters in animated films.
While speaking to Buzzfeed, the voice of Timon, said he is glad that the “tradition” of having a gay actor voice the meerkat has continued on. Nathan Lane voiced him in the original, before he came out in1999.
“I’m glad that [director] Jon Favreau kept the tradition of Timon being played by a gay actor, with a certain type of comedic sensibility, alive,” Eichner said. But he hopes more will be done.
“Gay people always had to sort of search for the closeted gay character, because there were no openly gay characters, and we were so thirsty for them,” he said. “People are always trying to find the gay character in animated movies. I think the way to correct that is to actually put gay characters in animated movies. … One of the last frontiers for LGBT representation is animated family films.”
He lists Disney’s live-action remake of “Beauty And The Beast” as one of those movies where you are questioning if the character was gay, “I don’t want it to be subtle or a question mark. It just should be gay.”
“There should just be existing openly LGBT characters so that we don’t have to keep arguing about Bert and Ernie,” the actor added. “I don’t care if Bert and Ernie are gay. I want to see actual gay people that are not a mystery. The way to move on from all those debates is to just create openly gay characters in children’s programming and family entertainment.”
Eichner also set the record straight if Timon and Pumbaa are a couple. “Timon and Pumbaa are different species — I don’t even think that’s ethically correct, you know, that they would be a couple in some way,” he quipped.
The “Billy On The Street” star added, “I didn’t think about him being gay so much as I thought, Well, I’m gay, and I have what some may consider a gay sensibility, and I’m going to bring that to the table, just the way that Nathan did. I’m certainly not going to shy away from it. In fact, I lean into it more in my performances than I even do in my everyday life.”