Cate Blanchett Defends Straight Actors Playing Gay Roles
Cate Blanchett has defended her right to play "characters beyond her experience" on the big screen.
The Australian actress is currently at the Rome Film Festival and opened up about the contentious issue during a talk with the festival’s artistic director, Antonio Monda.
Blanchett won widespread praise for her role as a lesbian woman in Carol -- but also received a torrent of questions about her sexuality and whether the part should have gone to a queer actor.
“Film can be quite a literal medium,” she said at the festival, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“And I will fight to the death for the right to suspend disbelief and play roles beyond my experience,” she added.
The actress pointed the finger at reality TV for having a negative effect on storytelling for the silver screen.
“I think reality television and all that that entails had an extraordinary impact, a profound impact on the way we view the creation of character,” she said.
“I think it provides a lot of opportunity, but the downside of it is that we now, particularly in America, I think, we expect and only expect people to make a profound connection to a character when it’s close to their experience,” she said.
British actor Idris Elba has shared similar thoughts to Blanchett about the types of roles actors should be taking on.
“Artistic license is artistic license,” Elba told TimeOut London this year.
“If an actor has the attributes to do something, they should be able to do it. They’re acting," he said.
“You don’t necessarily have to be gay to play a gay character. Though you do have to be black to play a black character.”
Straight actors who have won Oscars for playing LGBT+ characters
In 2016, Sir Ian McKellan pointed out that Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sean Penn had all won Academy Awards for playing gay men.
“How clever, how clever,” said McKellen during an interview with The Guardian. “What about giving me one for playing a straight man?
McKellan noted that no openly gay man has ever won the Best Actor Oscar, and that homophobia in Hollywood is still a big problem.
Straight actors including Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank, Christopher Plummer, and Jared Leto have also received Oscars for acting in LGBT+ roles.
Main Image: Getty Images