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The 25 Hollywood stars who went gay for pay

Meka Beresford June 20, 2017

Films are an important voice for a lot of LGBT people as they offer vital representation in society. Actors do an important job of starring as our favourite characters in films.

However, very few LGBT roles are filled by openly LGBT actors. Actors who are open about their sexuality are struggling to carve a successful career path for themselves – a fact that is not helped by their heterosexual counterparts filling up roles that some might argue should be reserved for them.

PinkNews has compiled all a list of all the Hollywood stars who have gone “gay for pay” on the big screen.

1. Marlon Brando in “Reflections in a Golden Eye”

Marlon Brando in "Reflections in a Golden Eye".
Marlon Brando as Major Weldon Penderton in “Reflections in a Golden Eye” (Photo: Warner Bros)

Marlon Brando plays a married soldier on an Army base in the 1940’s who’s homosexuality is repressed. Brando was the fourth choice for the role after the original actor Montgomery Clift died. Richard Burton and Lee Marvin turned the role down before it was offered to the Oscar-winning actor.

2. Hugh Grant in “Maurice”

Hugh Grant stars as Clive Durham in "Maurice"
Hugh Grant stars as Clive Durham in “Maurice” (Photo by Merchant Ivory Productions / Film Four International)

Grant plays the wealthy Clive Durham who confesses that he is sexually attracted to Maurice, who eventually returns Durham’s feelings.

3. James Wilby in “Maurice”

4. Meryl Streep in “The Hours”

Meryl Streep as Clarissa Vaughan in "The Hours"
Meryl Streep as Clarissa Vaughan in “The Hours” (Photo by Paramount Pictures)

Streep stars in the early 2000’s film as a lesbian, Clarissa Vaughan. Vaughan is the title character of the novel which the film is based off. We see her caring for a close friend with AIDS and planning a part for him in his last days.

5. River Phoenix in “My Own Private Idaho”

River Phoenix as Mike Waters in "My Own Private Idaho"
River Phoenix as Mike Waters in “My Own Private Idaho” (Photo by Fine Line Features)

Phoenix appears as gay hustler Mike Waters, who suffers from narcolepsy in the loose adaption of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV”. Phoenix’s character travels across the US from Oregon to Idaho in the search for his estranged mother.

6. Tom Hanks in “Philadelphia”

Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in "Philadelphia"
Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in “Philadelphia” (Photo by Clinica Estetico)

Hanks won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in “Philadelphia” as Andrew Beckett, a closeted gay lawyer who contracts AIDS.

7. Antonio Banderas in “Philadelphia”

Antonio Banderas as Miguel Álvarez in "Philadelphia"
Antonio Banderas as Miguel Álvarez in “Philadelphia” (Photo by Clinica Estetico)

Banderas plays Miguel Álvarez, Hank’s partner, in “Philadelphia”. It was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV and AIDS and the impact it had on homophobia and the LGBT community.

8. Cher in “Silkwood”

Cher as Dolly Pelliker in "Silkwood"
Cher as Dolly Pelliker in “Silkwood” (Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Cher plays the lesbian character Dolly Pelliker in Silkwood, a film about the life of Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep). The film marks a turning point in the LGBT icon’s career as one of the more “serious” films she did.

9. Will Smith in “Six Degrees of Separation”

Will Smith as Paul in "Six Degrees of Separation"
Will Smith as Paul in “Six Degrees of Separation” (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

In this 1993 comedy-drama, Smith plays Paul, a gay con-artist who works his way around the Upper East Side with his charming charisma.

10. Robin Williams in “The Birdcage”

Robin Williams as Armand Goldman in "The Birdcage"
Robin Williams as Armand Goldman in “The Birdcage” (Photo by Nichols Film Company)

Williams plays the openly gay owner of a South Beach drag club, Armand Goldman. In the comedy, Williams has to play it straight when his son’s future in-laws come to visit.

11. Dame Judi Dench in “Notes on a Scandal”

Judi Dench as Barbara Covett and Cate Blanchett as Sheba Hart in
Judi Dench as Barbara Covett and Cate Blanchett as Sheba Hart in (Photo by Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Dench plays history teacher Barbara Covett in the 2006 psychological thriller Notes on a Scandal. It follows Dench as she begins to have feelings for the new art teacher, Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett).

12. Hilary Swank in “Boys Don’t Cry”

Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in "Boys Don't Cry"
Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in “Boys Don’t Cry” (Photo from Hart-Sharp Entertainment/IFC Films/Killer Films)

Swank plays a young trans man, Brandon Teena, who has an intimate relationship with Lana Tisdel (played by Chloë Sevigny) before being savagely murdered by two prison convicts who he meets after being detained on old charges.

13. Jake Gyllenhaal in “Brokeback Mountain”

Heath Ledger (Ennis Del Mar) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Jack Twist) in "Brokeback Mountain"
Jake Gyllenhaal as Jack Twist in “Brokeback Mountain” (Photo by River Road Entertainment)

Gyllenhaal plays Jack Twist, a rodeo cowboy who makes a pass at Ennis after a night of heavy drinking and the two develop a sexual and emotional relationship quickly.

14. Heath Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain”

Heath Ledger (Ennis Del Mar) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Jack Twist) in "Brokeback Mountain"
Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain” (Photo by River Road Entertainment)

Ledger plays Ennis, a ranch hand. After the pair part ways, they both marry women. After four years, the couple reunites but can never fully be happy together in the gripping romantic drama.

15. Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Capote”

Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in "Capote"
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in “Capote” (Photo by Sony Pictures Classic)

Philip Seymour Hoffman plays gay author Truman Capote in the biographical film about his time writing the book ‘Cold Blood’. Capote becomes attached to two convicts who have been charged with killing the Clutter Family. While Capote develops a bond with convict Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) he grows further away from his own life at home.

16. James Franco in “Milk”

James Franco plays Scott Smith in "Milk"
James Franco plays Scott Smith in “Milk” (Photo by Focus Features)

Franco plays Scott Smith, Harvey Milk’s lover. Smith inspires Milk to move to San Francisco in hope of finding a community that accept their relationship.

17. Sean Penn in “Milk”

Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk in "Milk" (Photo by Focus Features)
Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk in “Milk” (Photo by Focus Features)

Sean Penn plays the lead character Harvey Milk in this film. The biographical film is about the life of the gay rights activist and politician.

18. Charlize Theron in “Monster”

Charlize Theron plays Aileen Wuornos in "Monster" (Photo from Newmarket Films)
Charlize Theron plays Aileen Wuornos in “Monster” (Photo from Newmarket Films)

Charlize Theron plays the role of Aileen Wuornos, a real-life prostitute who was executed in 2002 for killing six men. Theron received critical acclaim and won seventeen awards for her portrayal, including the Academy Award for Best Actress, Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress.

19. Christina Ricci in “Monster”

Christina Ricci plays Selby Wall in "Monster"
Christina Ricci plays Selby Wall in “Monster” (Photo from Newmarket Films)

Christina Ricci plays Selby Wall, the girlfriend of Aileen Wuornos. The book which the film is adapted from is written by Tyria Moore (the real life girlfriend of Wuornos who the character Selby Wall is based upon).

20. Jim Carrey in “I love You Phillip Morris”

Jim Carrey as Steven Jay Russell in "I Love You Phillip Morris"
Jim Carrey as Steven Jay Russell in “I Love You Phillip Morris” (Photo by LD Entertainment / Roadside Attractions)

Jim Carrey plays Steven Jay Russell in the comedy-drama film about the prison escapee and con artist. In prison, Russell falls in love with fellow inmate Phillip Morris.

21. Ewan McGregor in “I love You Phillip Morris”

Ewan McGregor as Phillip Morris in "I Love You Phillip Morris"
Ewan McGregor as Phillip Morris in “I Love You Phillip Morris” (Photo by LD Entertainment / Roadside Attractions)

Ewan McGregor plays Phillip Morris in the film. The pair shares a rollercoaster love story about prison breaks, forgiveness and ill health.

22. Whoopi Goldberg in “Boys On The Side”

Whoopi Goldberg as Jane in Boys on the Side
Whoopi Goldberg as Jane in Boys on the Side (Photo by Warner Bros.)

Whoopi Goldberg plays a lesbian lounge singer, Jane, on a road trip with Holly (Drew Barrymore) and Robin (Mary-Louise Parker). Jane is in search of a new life after breaking up with her girlfriend and getting fired.

23. Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in "The Imitation Game"
Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game” (Photo by The Weinstein Company)

Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing in the loose biographical film about the gay mathematician who deciphered the enigma code during the war.

24. Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl”

Eddie Redmayne as Einar Wegener in "The Danish Girl (Photo by Focus Features and Universal Pictures)
Eddie Redmayne as Einar Wegener in “The Danish Girl (Photo by Focus Features and Universal Pictures)

Redmayne plays trans landscape artist Einar Wegener in this mid-1920s Copenhagen-based film. The actor’s character is based on Lili Elbe, a Danish painter who is one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery.

25. Julianne Moore in “The Kids Are Alright”

Julianne Moore as Jules in "The Kids Are Alright"
Julianne Moore as Jules in “The Kids Are Alright” (Photo by Focus Features)

Julianne Moore plays Jules, a lesbian woman married to Nic (Annette Bening). Jules has an affair with the sperm donor of the couple’s kids, Paul.

More: actor, Film Reviews, Gay, gay for pay, Hollywood, LGBT, Television, US

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