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Public support Jack Whitehall casting as gay Disney character, poll finds

Nick Duffy August 16, 2018

Actor Jack Whitehall (Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for BFI)

The public is overwhelmingly in favour of straight actors being able to play gay parts, polling has found.

Voices within the LGBT+ community had voiced concern with the casting of straight actor Jack Whitehall as Disney’s first ever gay character in upcoming movie The Jungle Cruise.

Critics have suggested a long string of LGBT+ actors who would be better suited for the part than Whitehall, the privately-educated son of a producer and talent agent.

Jack Whitehall onstage at The BRIT Awards (Gareth Cattermole/Getty)

The backlash is similar to that against Armie Hammer’s casting in Call Me By Your Name.

But polling has found that despite concerns within the community, the public at large doesn’t think it’s an issue.

A YouGov poll in the UK looked into the debate, asking: “A heterosexual actor has been cast as the first major gay character in a Disney film. Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?”

The polling found that 70 percent of people believe “it is acceptable for a heterosexual actor to be cast in this part,” while just 12 percent believe “A gay actor should have been cast in this part.”

18 percent answered “Don’t Know,” possibly inflated because the question did not provide for people who don’t think the part is acceptable.

A majority of every demographic answered that the casting was acceptable, but young people were significantly more likely to doubt the casting.

19 percent of 18-to-24s believed that a gay actor should have been cast in this part and just 60 percent thought a straight actor was acceptable.

Only 10 percent of over-65s believed the part should have gone to a gay actor.

YouGov does not include demographic breakdowns based on sexual orientation or gender identity in its polling, so it is not possible to isolate responses from exclusively LGBT+ respondents.

Whitehall is reportedly 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 reports, 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.”

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.

More: character, Disney, Film Reviews, Gay, Jack Whitehall, LGBT

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