Rupert Everett: Being Gay in the Movie Biz ‘Really…Just Doesn’t Work’

In a New York Times magazine profile in which he's followed house-hunting in New York City, Rupert Everett says that being gay was a major impediment to his career in the movies:

Everett
"I wanted to be a movie star…You can’t say about work that I
didn’t try very hard. That really wasn’t true. I’ve always been a great
opportunist, but the opportunity was not always there. I had a
difficult set of circumstances to deal with, particularly for a movie
career…Being gay, really. It just doesn’t work…I was out before. I was never really in, I don’t think. Everybody
sabotages their careers to a certain extent, not consciously, but I
don’t think I have more than anyone else. People get distorted ideas of
themselves; being in this business, you can’t fail to. Suddenly you
think you should be playing the Marlon Brando
role in ‘On the Waterfront’ when you should really be playing a Noël
Coward role…I think
success in show business is a very heady wine when you’re a kid,
particularly if it happens small, because you’re always trying to make
it grow. There’s no happy moment in it, because you’re just grasping
and elbowing, elbowing, elbowing your way to the next stop. And you
make lots of wrong decisions because of it.

Everett also says that studios' casting decisions are influenced by their presumption of the audience's homophobia: "The paranoid moneymakers know that when the star goes to the first
night with his wife, the public sees that. They’ll accept
someone playing gay because they know he’s really straight."

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Comments

  1. MT says

    Let me play devil’s advocate here. What if Rupert Everett failed at being an actor because his talent is mediocre at best? What if being gay and being a good actor could exist in one person who had a stellar career that shows no signs of fading? Oh hey! It does! His name is Ian McKellen.

  2. says

    Bitter — party of one.

    It didn’t work for YOU, dear, because you’re such an impossible bitch. The parade’s passed you by, and a whole bunch of much more talented out gays and lesbians are leading it.

    Need we recall that NPH performed the ONLY worthwhile scene in the film you ruined, “The Next Best Thing”?

  3. voodoolock says

    it not all just because he’s gay. his body type and questionable charisma just aren’t leading man material. he could carry a movie as a young hottie, but after a certain age that won’t cut it any more. he’s a good actor, a nice guy, and fun to be around, but that doesn’t necessarily qualify one to be a movie star.

  4. Mark says

    Maybe Rupert just isn’t as talented as he thinks he is. It’s a lot easier for him to blame his lack of major success to being gay than to blame it on his dearth of talent. I always thought he was kind of a one-note performer anyway.

  5. jimmyboyo says

    sorry

    the majority of Ian’s BIG money making work was after coming out

    toss all his previous stuff and he is filthy rich from just the work he did after coming out

  6. troschne says

    Rupert Everett: “I think success in show business is a very heady wine…”

    Make that a very heady *whine* in his case. Sorry for your luck, Rup, but your being gay/not gay has nothing to do with your success, or lack thereof. David E. is spot-on!

    (BTW–hi, David E! We used to chat on TableTalk, back in the day.

  7. Derrick from PHilly says

    Well, yeah, JIMMY, but Rupert is talking about “leading man” status. HIs honesty is painful…may honesty always is. Folks come at you like sharks.

  8. Rowan says

    This was on Queerty…

    Rupert Whines and I can’t stand the guy BUT he is right.

    Tell me ONE actor who is a leading man is a gay.

    NOT Ian Mck who is 60 odd and came out after he was in his 40’s AND who isn’t a leading actor!

    Nor NPH who is a TV star.

    But Rupert WAS a leading man in the UK when he was young…he was good….

  9. Corey D. says

    I’m sure that the fact his face now looks mildly bizzare and is barely recognizable since his overdose on botox has absolutely nothing to do with his lack roles.

  10. Jay says

    …or maybe in your case, it’s because you’re a pompous ass who alienated most of your professional Rolodex at the time your big break was possible.

    Obviously, homophobia exists in Hollywood, but Rupert Everett screwed up his own career.

  11. jimmyboyo says

    scott B and Derrick (hi derrick)

    But maybe that is also the point. Rupert shouldn’t be trying for romantic leads. Maybe he shouldn’t think he should be 007 or whatever

  12. kitkats99 says

    “Tell me ONE actor who is a leading man is a gay.”

    Tom Cruise.

    I jest. But really, why does one “need” to be a leading man? There is plenty of room for gay people in the acting community, obviously. They just need to decide if they want to be a real actor, or a celebrity.

    If you actually want to act, and thats your passion then you will never be out of work .If you want to be a “celebrity”, you should join Paris Hilton and the local McDonalds opening and wait for paparazzi.

  13. Alex says

    why shouldn’t Rupert have been trying for romantic leads when he was younger? that is fucked up.

    I have no doubt his sexuality probably played a big part in stalling his career–how many leading men who are out can you name?

    But he’s on Broadway now with Angela Lansbury and Christine Ebersole, so he’s trying to make it work. He can be a romantic lead on Broadway, where they’re a lot more tolerant.

  14. Cj says

    I don’t know what to make of all the comments. From what I have read of Rupert and his history, he has been burned quite a bit, including being written off by people he considered his friends such as Madonna and Julia Roberts. Quite honestly, I have seen him act well enough, he was fantastic in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”. As per his performance in that god awful “The Next Best Thing”, that was more a factor of horrible writing, directing, and Madonna needing to be in the perfect lighting to make her appear younger.

    Regardless of what you may think about Rupert Everett, he does have a point. Ian McKellen is a CHARACTER actor, he has made most of his money from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and a few other films. McKellen is a fantastic actor who has been in the business for decades and most certainly did not make most of his money until his later years.

  15. Stan says

    Although Rupert likely is an insufferable bitch, he’s right. Ian is a 100 year old character actor, not a leading man. Rupert has every right as a gay man not to have to accept any limitation on his career, so why not pursue being a leading man? Penn just won an actor for portraying a gay man, so why can’t Rupert or any other actor play a leading man? That’s what I thought. And although I do like NPH, he is essentially playing the character Niles from Frazier, coincidently played by another gay man. Basically, the fussy straight guy immortalized by Felix Unger. Not a stretch for a gay man.

  16. Michael W. says

    Rupert isn’t bitching about not getting work, he’s bitching about not getting the kind of work he wants. Well, tough shit. There could be any number of reasons for that, and being gay may be on that list, but I doubt it’s the number one reason. I just don’t see him as leading man material. He reminds me too much of George Michael for some reason–and not the gay part.

  17. Joe Marrazzo says

    That’s a great point, Kitkats99. I have always found it to be profoundly unfair to openly gay actors and actresses that the barometer of their success is either they are a million dollar earning leading man or woman or it’s a complete fail. So many openly gay actors are thriving in a career that, trust me, is difficult for straight people to find consistant, well-paying, high profile work. (Try being a female who is over 30 or overweight, Rupert. See how many producers are knocking down your door). This is the most recent interview of Everett that I’ve seen where all he does isbitch and whine. Who the Frick wants to work with someone like that?

  18. DEREKK says

    I just was Mr. Everett outside the Shubert Theatre and hardly recognized him. His cheeks were bloated and his skin was awful. I wonder when that Times photo was taken?

  19. shoepins says

    everybody keeps mentioning the same actor (ian) as proof that there’s no discrimination in the industry. that’s akin to saying there’s no more discrimination against black people because obama is president. that’s one actor! the truth of the matter is that it is more difficult for gay actors to play leading men. i guess is more believable for a straight actor to play gay than vice verse.

  20. says

    Rupert isn’t getting work because he’s a) a jackass, b) not very talented and c) getting kinda old and fugly.

    There’s plenty of gay people who are doing very well and very open on TV. It’s only a matter of time before we get that in the movies, perhaps from some of the very same people who are doing so well on TV (which is, by and large, better than Hollywood Cheese movies nowadays anyway).

    Case in point: Neil Patrick Harris. He’s never been so big and is only getting bigger. Rumor has it he’s in line for getting cast as The Flash, which if anyone could make that a decent movie, it would be NPH. So we’ll see.

  21. Patrick says

    Who can ever really figure out how one person becomes a star while another levels off at lower altitude. It’s certainly not just looks or Philip Seymour Hoffman wouldn’t be in everything while Casper Van Dien wouldn’t end up doing a reality series. So who knows what makes up star quality? I have a feeling that there’s truth on both sides, after all, besides Ian (who really isn’t a leading man) can anyone name an out gay male STAR?

    I hate to bring up this comparison because race always seems to create a firestorm on this site, but it’s kinda like waiting for 43 white, male presidents before we get someone other than that. It’s not ABSOLUTE PROOF of racism and sexism, but it’s a pretty good indication.

    Along those lines, it wasn’t until Sydney Poitier in the 60’s came along that there were black actors appearing regularly in leading roles, and it took another 30 years before a black actor could reliably “open” a picture – think Will Smith. Hollywood is a very conservative place. The time for out gay actors will come – soon.

  22. jimmyboyo says

    jimsur

    Oh really? and how many oscars do you have as vs Ian to say Ian isn’t a movie star? I think you are confusing star with celebrity. Celebrity being paris hilton types.

    Also , character actors always have a pay check where as……

    CJ

    Agreed on Midsummer. He was great in that

  23. jimmyboyo says

    PS

    Everybody with 2 brain cells know that if your career is stalled then do INDIE stuff. in particular an indie film against type like a drugged out dude in a wheel chair and then everybody in Hollywood sits up and takes notice

    Rupert though would prefer that he gets to look sexy as 007

    A HUGE difference

  24. Bill says

    Sean Penn looks like shit and he’s a leading man.

    Why am I not suprised so many gay people on here accept the fact that NO leading actor in Hollywood has acknowledged being gay and the reason is talent? Why do gay people believe the hatero bullshit? WHY!!!??? Cary Grant was gay. Was he not talented? Greta Garbo was gay. Was she not talented? They were closeted and their talent has been acknowledged. The trouble happens when a person acknowledges their homosexuality. All of a sudden they are not talented, they are not this or that. Give me a break!!!! What you are really saying is you can only be valued if you are HATERO. That is Rupert’s point and he is 100% right. STOP THE ANTI-GAY BIGOTRY. SOTP THE SELF-HATRED.

  25. jimmyboyo says

    Then bill

    tell him to get hiss onto an indie filem, hell produce an indie film starring himself = drugged out heroin addict in a wheel chair so against type that it forces hollywood to take notice.

    That is what you do if they aren’t taking you seriously as vs bitching

  26. says

    Hi Troschne!

    The whole “leading man’ bit is wildly overrated. “leading Men” ahev a cvery short shelf life. It’s fine when you’re young and pretty, but Ol’ Miss Time has done kicked the living shit out of La Cruise. Zac Ephron he ain’t. And Zac won’t be Zac in a few years. Meanwhile character acotrs as old as Sir Ian and as young as NPH thrive.

    Consdeir too the fact that Alec Baldwin never connected as a leading man but now as a middle-aged sophisticated comic character actor he fucking RULES.

    Rupert Everet could be enjoying that kind of a career, but hes burned too many bridges.

  27. Bob West says

    It’s all about perception, if an openly gay actor has a love scene with a woman, both the straight and gay audience in the back of their mind, think he’s gay and would rather be kissing another actor. You can’t be a leading man in Hollywood if your gay, but you can be a good or great actor. Even someone like Tom Cruise with all the rumors, the thoughts about his sexuality occur. It might work if the actor says he’s bi-sexual. Even Hugh Jackman, I’m thinking about it. It’s tough to put it aside. When an actor plays gay to well in a film the rumors start.

  28. paul c says

    I won’t wholly discount his claims, but honestly, I think he has a horseface, rotten personality and lack of trustworthiness that are more to blame than his homosexuality.

    How many big stars gossip and trash their colleagues the way he does? Even an A-lister couldn’t get away with that shit.

  29. philbert says

    maybe you have a lousy career because you are not that good of an actor. Stop whining you dufuss. Just admit that you are mediocre at best. Jeeeeezzzz!!!!!!!

  30. Zeke says

    If his whining isn’t annoying enough then there’s the even more annoying fact that he is an ENGLISHMAN who has extremely poor ENGLISH grammar skills.

    I know that he was speaking rather than writing but REALLY. It’s painful to read and try to comprehend his splintered thought fragments. Geesh.

  31. TANK says

    I can understand the negative reaction. It has a lot to do with the fact that it’s simply career POISON if you aspire to be an A-list celebrity with leading actor starpower to come out of the closet. There isn’t a single leading man or woman who is openly homosexual in hollywood. It doesn’t feel good as a gay person to know this, I imagine. OH, and then there’s the cannibalistic pettiness that pervades the typical gay man’s understanding of the world around him (no faggot but me! myopia).

    Rupert Everett admits that he made a lot of mistakes, but there are so many celebrities who’ve made so many more and worse mistakes…who’ve nonetheless managed to come back. It’s too late for him, and he’s justified in being extremely bitter. The lesson here is STAY in the closet.

    NPH is a teevee, sitcom actor closeted for most of his career.

    Sir Mckellen is a stage actor…and not a leading man.

    Ellen and Rosie…c’mon. Ellen’s sitcom ended the moment she came out. And now she’s a talkshow host, not an actress, or leading lady.

  32. patrick nyc says

    Good point PAUL C. There are many reasons some actors do not get work, and I’m sure homophobia has some play with Rupert’s career. That said he has often bit off his nose to spite his face.

    Everett came from a very well off family, despite dropping out of school at the age of 15, he became a star on the London stage hit Another Country at 21. He played the part again in the film version in ’84.

    All seemed great but Rupert’s use of drugs and selling himself as a high end rent boy, along with his rep as an arrogant prick, had more to doing him in than his being gay.

    My friends in LA say that a bad rep has more to do with not working, see: Marisa Tomei, than any other reason. Again see: Isiah Washington.

  33. p says

    rupert everett is right, as much as i hate to give him credit.

    but… i’m so glad the consensus reflects how i feel about him. every time you read something about him, it’s all about him whining and being bitter. his movies, for the most part, have sucked. he plays his characters the same no matter what movie he is in: this ‘aren’t i just too fabulous,’ noel coward persona. he’d probably play superman that way if offered. and his books are even worse.

    this article on rupert should be tagged in a special ‘whatever mary, get over it’ category.

  34. Bill McCann says

    Rupert is a lovely actor, a charming writer and in no way deserving of easy dismissal. He is saying something insightful that the thoughtful among us can take to heart. Yes, he’s talking about his own experiences but he is also, importantly, talking about they way things are. Rupert is honest. Deal with it.

  35. says

    Ummm. . . Rupert was out twenty years before Neil Patrick Harris and ten years before Ian McKellan. I doubt very seriosuly either of them would have come out had it not been for Everett’s absolutely heroic willingness to forego a leading man career in order to live as an out gay man and to try to get leading man roles as an out gay man. Please go watch “Another Country” or “Dance With a Stranger,” in both of which he projects a rare movie star glamor, before you dismiss him. He would have been a major star had he stayed in the closet. I would hope that there would be some gratitude for the career sacrifices he made in order to pave the way for later performers.

  36. Mark says

    Everett is a very good actor. I remember him over 20 years ago in “Dance with a Stranger” (1985) also starring Miranda Richardson and Ian Holm. He would have continued as a sexy leading man if he hadn’t the balls to come out.

    You Gays are extremely hostile. Everett just can’t win. If he stays in the closet he’s self-loathing. If he comes out and his career suffers he a loser and a complainer and it’s all his own fault. What the hell do you want from the guy?! All I see is consistency: Everett had the balls to come out EARLY and the balls to call out the homophobia in the film/entertainment industry.

    And Ian McKellan? Success at 60 years old? He came out when he was an old man.

  37. Mark says

    re: Stan

    Sean Penn was offered the role of Harvey Milk for 2 reasons:

    1) he resembles Milk
    2) he is heterosexual

    A Gay man starring in a movie about a Gay man would be seen as a Gay movie. Without a mainstream heterosexual male star Milk would have received no attention or acclaim but would have been relegated to the gay film festival circuit.

    Very good analysis of NPH.

  38. Cj says

    The only fact I have witnessed is that many of the commentators have demonstrated they can be as “bitchy” and “whiney” as the person they are criticizing. For a community that has been marginalized and ridiculed, we seem awfully quick in prejudging and skewering others (especially our own).

  39. Ted says

    Okay, let’s make a few things clear. Rupert didn’t even come out until he was 30. What leading man is not a leading man by 30? Brad Pitt & Tom Cruise were both leading men by that age. Also, dear Rupert came out in a book about how he had been a rent boy. Uhm, excuse me, but maybe the rest of you have never been to the United States, but saying that at one time you were a prostitute means that you are NEVER going to be a leading man. The gay is just the cherry on top of that poop sundae. Rupert has been using this as an excuse since he came out. He needs to build a bridge and get over it!

  40. clint says

    Eh so what? What does that mean anymore, “leading role”? Frankly I don’t see many out gay actors period, so there aren’t really enough to go around and get the kind of recognition that Rupert Everett wishes he had gotten all these years. Honestly there’s not enough big movies of decent quality to even worry about leading vs. character actors.

  41. TANK says

    Hey Ted, what about daniel craig? There are dozens of A-list actors who didn’t come into their own until their thirties (or at least had a comeback), so once again, you people got nothin’. And the rest of you obnoxious, cannibalistic faggots clucking that it’s ALL his own fault can take a flying leap. Wake up, gays are discriminated against in “the showbizness”…ha ha ha ha. I think many of you are just angry because you didn’t get a chance to pal around with madge. Embarrassing.

  42. DanJoaquinOz says

    All I know about Everett was how he behaved here in Sydney and if that’s any indication, his difficulties in achieving movie-stardom probably had more to do with his personality than his sexuality. The guy was a complete douche: diva tantrums, ultra-messy public intoxication, bitter harangues and “do-you-know-who-I-am?”s. By the time he left town even the loneliest drunks were avoiding him.

    Given the huge numbers of gays in the film industry – from moguls like David Geffen, to directors like Gus van Sandt & Almovadar, to countless technical, creative workers, agents, writers, publicists etc., I imagine it won’t be long until there is an openly gay, leading-man actor that is also a real true movie star. But my bet is that he’ll be someone with enormous talent, genuine humility, humour and charm. In other words, someone who’s nothing like Rupert Everett.

  43. Gabe R says

    Ah, someone who has to have the last word, even if it isn’t right. Many of the gay people in the industry cooperate with the homophobia if they want to succeed and be seen as mainstream, not just as gay producers, screenwriters, etc. Its the same in fashion. Some of the most derogatory comments about mens fashion and male vanity, come from the gay men working in those industries. It isn’t always about evil straight people. What about all the actors believed to be straight who are difficult to get along with. Why haven’t their careers suffered. They aren’t difficult homos, I guess. Unfortunately homophobia still plays a big part in hollywood, because of homophobia still so prevalent in society at large.

  44. JH says

    I saw Rupert last year walking alone in Covent Garden in London. he is shorter than you think. He looked miserable, furtively glancing around – no one recognizing him, or caring much. People don’t mob stars in London the way they do here – but they do still recognize the stars. Rupert is self-loathing for whatever reason and so much of what he says sounds like a victim.

  45. 1fanboy2many says

    I’v hated you for years, you smug bastard. Pretense bores me Mr. Voice of Gays Everywhere. I thought you had gone away for good, but apparently you’re like some freakin’ horror movie cliche’. Will you please just read the script, smile pretty and leave the thinking and talking to your publicist. God!

  46. TK says

    “I want to be a movie star” is completely different from, say,”I want to be a working actor.”

    Obviously, Mr. Everett is hungry for “celebrity” attention. He admits that he’s “an opportunist” for being a leading man, which pretty equates with celebrity/movie star. Tom Cruise is the BEST example of controlling this type of massive-scale publicity machine. Cruise is a very SLY guy, extremely career savvy.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Everett has little charms to sustain his celebrity. He should find someone (e.g. Madonna) who is notoriously famous and hangout with that STAR. He’ll get his name in the paper.

    I truly enjoy some of Mr. Everett’s works (Another Country and An Ideal Husband). He is a talented artist. However, his project choices are money motivated (Inspector Gadget, Dunston Checks In, The Next Best Thing, etc.

    Do something challenging! There always a comeback (unless he’s obsessed with being a MOVIE STAR)! Look at Mickey Rourke. Ian McKellen is a different breed — one of the greatest character actors in the world.

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