Ben Daniels, star of the BBC hit series Cutting It, has dismissed claims made by Hollywood star Rupert Everett that it is better for aspiring gay actors to stay in the closet despite homophobia he experienced at the BBC.
In 2009, Everett told The Observer: “I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out. The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business.”
Daniels told The Stage: “I think [Everett] is a brilliant actor but, hold on, he’s also got a really great career. And I heard him saying in an interview that he’s earned enough money to eat out every night of the year, so it should be put in perspective.
“On the other hand, I know that there is a problem with homophobia in Hollywood. There is at the BBC, too. It’s come up sometimes for some jobs with me, but thankfully someone in the room will say that’s ridiculous. I’ve been around for long enough now that people know I can do it.” Referring to his character in Cutting It, he added: “I have that whole bag-load of serial shagging behind me to prove it.”
“I would never advise anyone to stay in the closet to further their careers – I’m sure it leads to big fat gay ulcers. There are actors I know who won’t come out, and I can see it crippling them as human beings. It’s a great shame that people can’t be who they are in the 21st century, and people won’t let them be who they are.”
Daniels claims that being honest about his sexuality makes his acting better: “There’s nothing that gets in your way then.”
In the interview, Daniels does acknowledge one point that Everett has continually made, a lack of credible LGBT A-list stars. “He is absolutely right to bemoan the lack of out gay A-list movie stars. Of course, there are gay A-list movie stars in existence. It’s just that we, the public, don’t know who they are.
“Lying about one’s sexuality seems to be one of the ridiculous rules of what constitutes being a Hollywood movie star. Obviously, my own experience of working and continuing to work as an out gay actor is exactly that – working as an actor and not as a movie star. I don’t think the two are the same. But the whole hankering after being an A-list movie star as the pinnacle of one’s career seems to somehow denigrate the rest of our profession.”