'A Single Man' Star Colin Firth Undecided About Straight Actors Playing Gay

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday November 12, 2020

Colin Firth, the star of fashion designer Tom Ford's 2009 feature debut "A Single Man," in which he played a gay man, says he doesn't "have a final position" on the question of whether straight actors should play LGBTQ roles.

"I think the question is still alive," Firth mused, according to a story in the UK newspaper The Independent. "It's something I take really seriously, and I gave it a lot of thought before doing this."

Firth went on to say that taking any role, gay or straight, strikes him as "an insufferable presumption."

"How can I presume to set foot in this person's lived experience, let alone try to represent it?" the actor wondered.

The question arose in an interview with Stanley Tucci for UK publication Attitude. Tucci is also known for a celebrated gay role - that of Nigel in the 2006 comedy "The Devil Wears Prada." Tucci and Firth co-star in the upcoming "Supernova," a drama about a gay couple taking a road trip after one of them is diagnosed with dementia.

Tucci weighed in also, noting that "For so many years, gay men and women have had to hide their homosexuality in show business to get the roles they wanted — that's the problem here."

However, Tucci went on to add, "Anybody should be able to play any role that they want to play — that's the whole point of acting."

The question has come up recently concerning several films both new and old. Scarlett Johansson took on a role in which she was to play a transgender character until an outcry caused her to reconsider. That project, titled "Rub and Tug," was later re-conceptualized as a TV series featuring a trans actor in the lead role.

Julianne Moore pondered the question last summer with regard to her role in the 2010 Lisa Cholodenko film "The Kids Are All Right," in which she starred as a lesbian mother and wife opposite Annette Bening. Moore told Variety, "Here we were, in this movie about a queer family, and all of the principal actors were straight. I look back and go, 'Ouch. Wow.' I don't know that we would do that today, I don't know that we would be comfortable."

Even Francis Lee's "Ammonite," a lesbian love drama getting Oscar buzz, came in for some criticism because its stars, Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, are both straight.

There have also been murmurs of protest regarding a film that's not yet entered production, "In the Shadow of the Mountain," which is based on the as-yet-unpublished memoir of openly lesbian mountain climber Silvia Vásquez-Lavado. That film is set to star Selena Gomez, who is also producing.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.