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Ben Platt thinks we should ‘do everything in our power’ to give queer roles to queer actors

Maggie Baska May 13, 2021
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Ben Platt

Ben Platt attends ELLE x Ferragamo Hollywood Rising Party at Sunset Tower on 11 October 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)

Dear Evan Hansen‘s Ben Platt says the entertainment industry should be “doing everything in our power” to cast LGBT+ actors for queer roles.

The out actor and musician said in an interview with NME that he was looking forward to his upcoming role in the comedy The People We Hate at the Wedding because “it’s a gay character”, which “isn’t something I’ve done very often”. He explained that he wanted to play a gay character because he is “seeing more and more queer actors telling their own stories”.

Platt then opened up about the debate around if straight actors should play queer roles. It’s a Sin writer Russel T Davies declared that LGBT+ actors should always be cast in queer roles because it lends “authenticity” to the performance. He later told PinkNews that he believed “casting gay as gay now is the right thing to do”.

Platt told NME that he “largely” agrees with Davies’ point of view, but he said there wasn’t a “black and white answer” to the debate. He said the entertainment industry should be “doing everything in our power to cast queer actors” “wherever possible” – especially if the story is “really rooted in a queer background or is [fundamentally] a queer story” like It’s a Sin.

Ben Platt added the decision shouldn’t just be about authenticity, like Davies argued, but it should also be about providing equal opportunities for LGBT+ talent. He explained: “Because often, just in terms of judgement from creators and casting directors, we [queer perfomers] aren’t able to tell straight stories or play straight characters.”

Platt added it would be “lovely to continue celebrating people who are queer and gay playing who they are”, and he believed it was about “leaning into that until we reach a bit more of an equilibrium”.

He added that he thinks it’s easier for openly queer performers to land straight roles in theatre than parts of the entertainment industry because there is “less of a hang-up on what someone’s look and image is”.

“There’s something a bit more ‘put up and shut up’ about the theatre because it’s about delivering on the day,” Platt said. “You’re the one going out there and delivering a performance every night. So you can be whoever the f**k you want, essentially.”

Ben Platt isn’t the only celebrity to weigh in on the debate around straight actors playing gay characters.

Stanley Tucci, who has played gay characters in several films, said he has some “difficulty” with the idea that LGBT+ roles should be exclusively played by queer actors. Tucci told CBS that he believed acting is “all about not being yourself”. He added: “If we were to use that as a template, then we would only ever play ourselves.”

But he said that he believed “we need to give more gay actors opportunities”.

Ewan McGregor recently defended his casting as Halston in Ryan Murphy’s upcoming Netflix biopic series named after the gay fashion designer. McGregor argued Halton’s sexuality was “just one part of who he was”. He added that, if the series focused more on Halston’s sexuality, then “maybe it’s right that gay actors should play that role”.

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