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.
Blanchett’s point is one about the integrity of acting as an art and I’m here for it. But that ability to play someone outside your experience has to extend both ways, and right now I don’t think that’s the temperature of the room.
— Cedric Diggory Was Murdered By The Dark Lord (@JFerrarelli) October 20, 2018
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.
Actually it should not be a matter of LGBT people playing LGBT characters. It is a matter of giving equal chance to LGBT+ actors. Str8 actors should have the right to play LGBT characters as LGBT should be able to portray in straight roles. We'd wait some positive discrimination
— Turkish Gays – LGBT (@PrideTurkey) October 20, 2018
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.
How bout … now I’m just throwing it out there … but we give LGBT+ actors/actresses the chance to play LGBT+ characters
— Shane Gonsalves (@ShaneGonsalves0) October 21, 2018
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.
Cool. Love her. Now I would love to hear her fight to the death for gay actors playing straight roles. There's the real hurdle.
— Maureen (@soaprookie) October 20, 2018
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.
52 straight actors have been nominated for LGBTQ+ roles, how many queer people have been awarded for playing any role ?
— Matt M (@McMatty_92) October 20, 2018
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.
The only thing gay and trans actors want is the chance to get in the room to audition for these roles that unfortunately are more often than not the only roles we can get. We don't have the opportunity for roles about us! In a perfect world any actor could play any role period.
— n (@cordeliachaseme) October 21, 2018
Twitter was pretty disappointed by Blanchett’s remark:
Being an ally and decent human being requires far more than playing a lesbian character and wearing fucking pantsuits.
It took two minutes to find these and I’m sure there’s much more and much worse.
— LesbianLifePartner (@PartnerLesbian) October 21, 2018
What a hero. Fighting for straight actors to play gay roles. We all know how hard they have it to find work. Cate Blanchett is cancelled. Yeah, quote me. https://t.co/mZBatFgsNK
— Harry Cook (@HarryCook) October 20, 2018
gays: yeah it really isn’t the same to have straights play gays as it is to have cis people play trans people
cate blanchett: i will literally DIE to have straights play gays. i will go to war
— yeah can i get uhhh (@lgbtkenobi) October 21, 2018
LGBTQ advocates hope Blanchett rethinks her position and helps contribute to equal representation in Hollywood.
and while that’s true for a character who happens to be an astronaut,it’s a whole different conversation when it comes to portraying an LGBTQ+ character. not only is blanchett missing the point entirely she doesn’t even realize her privilege as a straight and cis white woman.
— Ale (@luf_daungere) October 21, 2018