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Film and TV

Stanley Tucci ‘has difficulty’ with the debate around straight actors playing gay roles

Patrick Kelleher February 1, 2021
Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci play gay couple in upcoming film about dementia

Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth in Supernova (Twitter/BFI)

Stanley Tucci has said he has “difficulty” with the debate around straight actors playing gay characters.

The actor has played gay characters in a number of high-profile films, including The Devil Wears Prada and Burlesque. He plays a gay man living with dementia in his latest film Supernova, where he stars opposite Colin Firth.

When asked about the ongoing debate around whether straight actors should play gay characters on CBS Sunday Morning, Tucci said he has “difficulty” with the idea that gay roles should be exclusively played by queer actors.

Tucci, who is married to Felicity Blunt, sister to actress Emily Blunt, was asked by CBS correspondent Holly Williams what he thinks of “criticism from some quarters saying gay roles should be played by gay actors”.

“I have difficulty with that,” Tucci replied. “I think that acting is all about not being yourself. If we were to use that as a template, then we would only ever play ourselves. I think what we need to do, we need to give more gay actors opportunities.

“People who are gay have only recently, in the last few years really, have been able to say, ‘I’m gay and I’m an actor and I can play straight roles.’ They always had to hide their sexuality so that they could play the leading man or leading woman.”

He added: “Having played a number of gay characters, you want to do it so that it’s, as you do with any character, you just want to be truthful to it.”

Stanley Tucci has attracted awards buzz for his performance in Supernova

Tucci’s latest film Supernova is currently amassing awards buzz for its stars’ powerful performances – but it has also attracted criticism from some LGBT+ viewers for casting two straight actors to play a gay couple.

Tucci’s comments come just weeks after British screenwriter Russell T Davies said he specifically cast gay actors in gay roles for his Channel 4 AIDS-drama It’s a Sin, saying they brought an “authenticity” to the series.

In November, Kristen Stewart, who is bisexual, suggested that it is OK for straight actors to take on gay roles – as long as they’re prepared to put the work in to understand that experience.

“I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who’s lived that experience,” Stewart said.

“Having said that, it’s a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I’m going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law.”

“I think it’s such a grey area,” she added. “There are ways for men to tell women’s stories, or ways for women to tell men’s stories. But we need to have our finger on the pulse and actually have to care.”

More: Gay, Stanley Tucci, supernova

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