Jack Whitehall reportedly cast as Disney’s first gay character in The Jungle Cruise
English comic Jack Whitehall is reportedly set to play Disney’s first ever gay character on the big screen.
The Sun reported that Whitehall is set to play the character in The Jungle Cruise, an upcoming Disney movie starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Emily Blunt.
The film, which is based on the Disneyland ride of the same name, stars Johnson as a boat captain taking two siblings on a mission into the jungle to find a magic tree.
According to the outlet, Whitehall is set to play the brother of Blunt’s character – playing a “hugely effete, very camp and very funny” figure who “makes clear he has no interest in women.”
Whitehall is straight in real life, and some on social media questioned how sensitive his portrayal of a “camp” gay character would be.
The comedian said: “I’m so honoured to be part of this epic adventure.
“Filming is underway and I am having the time of my life with my amazing co stars.
“It’s so cool to be part of something of this scale and also as possibly one of the biggest Disney nerds on the planet so exciting to be working on a project with this much history.”
“I can’t wait for you to see this film…”
If true, it will be Disney’s first foray into LGBT+ characters in film, having relaxed its long-standing policy that prevented LGBT+ content.
Several shows on the Disney Channel have had LGBT+ characters since the abrupt change in 2014, but it has taken longer for Disney’s film output to show any signs of becoming LGBT+ inclusive.
Disney’s mammoth Marvel and Star Wars cinematic universes have never featured a single visibly LGBT+ character across more than 25 films.
Industry insiders have hinted that Disney is reluctant to include LGBT characters in major blockbusters due to fears of a potential negative reaction in overseas markets.
2017’s live-action Beauty and the Beast was banned in several markets after the director stated in pre-release inteviews that character LeFou was gay.
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The film itself did not explicitly confirm that LeFou was gay, though he was shown briefly dancing with a man.
GLAAD’s annual Studio Responsibility Index report recently showed that Walt Disney Studios was failing a basic test of LGBT inclusivity.
GLAAD’s report, which assesses big-screen releases noted a concerning trend of films that have “erased a character’s queer identity as they moved from page to screen.”
This appears to refer to the ‘straightwashing’ of characters in Marvel releases Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok, where characters who are LGBT+ in their source material are not depicted as such on screen.
The media advocacy group noted: “There are so many strong LGBTQ-inclusive comics… [and] on the television side, superhero shows regularly include LGBTQ characters and have been a hit with fans.
“It is becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore that LGBTQ people remain almost completely shut out of Hollywood’s big budget comic book films that have dominated the box office over the past several years.”