Cate Blanchett Vigorously Defends Actors Playing LGBTQ+ Characters In New Interview

Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett, who played a lesbian woman in 2015’s Carol, has spoken out defending straight actor’s right to play LGBTQ characters, saying the ability to connect with a character outside your own life experiences is integral to the role of an actor.

At the Rome Film Festival, Blanchett commented that the ability to play people different from yourself was what being an actor is all about:

It also speaks to something that I’m quite passionate about in storytelling generally, but in film specifically, is that film can be quite a literal medium. And I will fight to the death for the right to suspend disbelief and play roles beyond my experience. 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 went on:

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.

Many members of the LGBTQ community believe that Blanchett’s comments miss the point of the backlash some straight actors playing LGBTQ roles face in America. For LGBTQ actors, the issue is not about a straight person’s capability of playing any roles, but about equal opportunities for actors of any gender to secure roles in the first place. 

In total, 52 straight actors who at one point played LGBTQ characters have been nominated for Academy Awards (including Blanchett herself). The same is not true in the opposite direction—Sir Ian McKellen pointed out in May that no openly gay man has ever won an Oscar. 

Similarly, many members of the LGBTQ community point out that straight actors have the luxury of portraying a gay or lesbian character, only to return to playing heterosexual characters afterwards, whereas gay actors are often inescapably typecast as homosexual. They agree with Blanchett’s statement that acting is about connecting with characters different from yourself, but point out LGBTQ actors aren’t usually given that opportunity. 

Twitter was pretty disappointed by Blanchett’s remark:

LGBTQ advocates hope Blanchett rethinks her position and helps contribute to equal representation in Hollywood. 

H/T – Mashable, Vanity Fair