One of the stars of hit comedy The Office has said he is convinced there are many high-profile Hollywood celebrities who are gay, and he can’t understand why they do not come out.

“The funny thing about the acting business is that there are more poofs in it than you can have hot dinners thrown at you,” said Martin Freeman, who played Tim in The Office.

“But no one is out. It’s not so bad here, but in Hollywood …

“Why don’t they just admit it?

“In this so-called liberal industry, no one has the guts to come out because of the box office, but someone has to be first in the firing line.”

Mr Freeman, who has graduated to big screen success after establishing himself on TV, made his comments just weeks after the star of a US hit show revealed his is gay.

Canadian actor Luke MacFarlane, who plays the character of Scotty in Brothers and Sisters, came out in an interview with the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail.

Explaining his decision after years of speculation in the press regarding his sexuality he said:

“I don’t know what will happen professionally … that is the fear, but I guess I can’t really be concerned about what will happen, because it’s my truth.

“There is this desire in L.A. to wonder who you are and what’s been blaring for me for the last three years is how can I be most authentic to myself – so this is the first time I am speaking about it in this way.”

The actor has been linked in the press with Prison Break star Wentworth Miller.

Despite an increasing number of Hollywood actors deciding to come out, most decide to keep secret about their sexuality fearing that it would ruin their career.

In the last year some younger Hollywood actors, such as Grey’s Anatomy star TR Knight and Doogie Howser MD star Neil Patrick Harris, have found themselves effectively outed by gossip websites, among them Perez Hilton.

Lesbian icon Jodie Foster recently took the symbolic step of publicly acknowledging her long-term female partner.

Mr Freeman’s comments were echoed those of British actor Sir Ian Mc Kellen, who last year slammed Hollywood producers for encouraging gay actors and actresses to hide their sexuality.

“With all that liberal attitude, you have a local industry which is saying to local people who live in the area, ‘When you come to work, you are not gay,'” Sir Ian said.

“And I think to myself, ‘Can people whose minds work like that make good films? And if at the heart of Hollywood there is that lie, how many other lies are there?'”

Another UK-based gay actor, John Barrowman, has said his sexuality did not influence the kind of roles he got offered as an actor and believes it is “just sad” that someone would deny their sexuality to the world.

“If it (being gay) has been a problem, no-one ever told me so. I know people who lie about being gay because they think it will affect their work chances. That is just sad,” he told The Stage in January.

Actor Rupert Everett claimed in his memoir, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, that he lost jobs on About a Boy and Basic Instinct 2 because he’s openly gay.

Howard Bragman, CEO of American PR company Fifteen Minutes, explained in Out magazine that he believes there are four kinds of gay men in Hollywood:

“There’s the openly gay; the gay and everybody knows it but nobody talks about it; the married, closeted gay who doesn’t talk about it; and the screaming ‘I’ll sue you if you say I’m gay’ person.”

Bragman also said that when actors he deals with are struggling with their sexuality he advises them to come out, because even if their career turns less lucrative they will be happier with themselves.

“A lot of actors are afraid of being defined by their sexuality.

“In Hollywood they don’t cast by positives, they cast by negatives: ‘This one’s too this or that.’

“And actors don’t want to give red flags. They’re actors and want to talk about their mutability, not their personal lives,” he added.