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A US commentator has reignited a row over gay actors in Hollywood after claiming that studios shut out stars who make their sexuality public.
Newsweek writer Ramin Setoodeh was widely vilified in April when he wrote a piece claiming that openly gay TV star Sean Hayes, best known for his role as the flamboyant Jack in Will and Grace, did not make a convincing straight character in the Broadway play Promises, Promises. In a new article, Setoodeh, who is himself gay, suggests that gay men are not even able to play gay roles because Hollywood prefers to hand them to straight actors.
"The lovable lesbian wives in The Kids Are All Right were played by the heterosexual actresses Annette Bening and Julianne Moore," writes Setoodeh.
"The quirky couple in I Love You Phillip Morris were portrayed by straight men Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.
"You could say that's why it's called 'acting'. But that's little comfort to gay actors, who are routinely shut out of the studio system, even though Hollywood is supposedly one of the most 'gay-friendly' towns. Movies need to attract the broadest possible audience, and film-makers worry that if they cast a gay person as a romantic lead, audiences will be too grossed out. Instead, straight actors get the roles, and everybody talks about how brave they are."
Setoodeh's comments echo recent remarks made by the British actor Rupert Everett, who said that he had been completely shut out of Hollywood since coming out. Speaking on Radio 4, Everett praised Colin Firth's portrayal of a gay man in last year's A Single Man, but said such casting choices left actors such as himself with limited opportunities.
"A lot of straight actors are actively searching for gay roles because it is something different to do," he said. "I think that's fine, but that does mean the gay actor who used to just get to play the gay part – like me – has been reduced to drag, really."
Richard Chamberlain, star of the 1970s Three Musketeers films and The Man in the Iron Mask, as well as a teen idol as Dr Kildare in his younger days, recently warned gay actors against coming out. Chamberlain, who announced that he was gay in a 2003 autobiography, said: "I wouldn't advise a gay leading man-type actor to come out. There is still a tremendous amount of homophobia in our culture. It's regrettable, stupid, heartless and immoral, but there it is."
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