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Gay Director Todd Holland to Actors: To Succeed, Stay in the Closet

Emmy-winning director Todd Holland caused a stir at an Outfest panel over the weekend after advising actors who wants to succeed to remain in the closet:

Holland "Holland, who was talking as one of the featured panelists, and who once worked as a director on the critically acclaimed HBO sit-com The Larry Sanders Show, explained that it's a necessary career choice if a gay actor wants to succeed in Hollywood. Fellow panelist and filmmaker Kirby Dick, director of Outrage, a 2009 documentary about gay politicians who stay in the closet to further their political careers, told Holland: "I know where you're coming from, but it's a regressive argument." Holland, who was legally married before Proposition 8 was passed by California voters in November, responded that he was just being realistic, but Dick believed that if "an A-list actor came out, it would have more impact on the culture than an A-list politician." No one talked about the personal repercussions of a gay actor succeeding in Hollywood by lying about his sexual orientation to the general public."

Certainly one actor who would agree with Holland is Rupert Everett. Everett has continually blamed his lack of career momentum on his openness about his sexuality. Said Everett to Kevin Sessums in April: "There is just very little opportunity for a fag. That’s the reality. There isn’t."

Note: an earlier draft of the L.A. Weekly article stated that Kirby Dick is a gay filmmaker. He is not gay. This has been corrected.

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  1. Regardless of what people think, Holland is being honest based off his experiences in the industry. We may not want to agree with him but he's just offering an opinion.

    Posted by: nate | Jul 13, 2009 11:30:54 AM

  2. Rupert Everettt is such a poor example for this argument. He's far from a likable actor, thus his prospects of ever being an "A List" star were limited to begin with. His "backstory" (working as a rentboy, etc) is hardly the stuff that mainstream stardom is built on. So yes, he's disappointed and bitter but there were other factors at work besides his being gay.

    Posted by: Funbud | Jul 13, 2009 11:36:51 AM

  3. Kirby Dick is most definitely not gay... not sure where you got that info.

    Posted by: Berliner | Jul 13, 2009 11:42:31 AM

  4. Rupert Everett's real problem is that he's a horrible human being. He had a nice string of movies, even when he was openly gay. He became too old for the same kind of rolls he had earlier on. This is a problem every actor deals with, some more successfully than others (ie Meryl Streep). I wish Rupert Everett came with a disclaimer. Warning: I do not speak for the gay community, just the bitter, self-hating ones.

    Seems like this director belongs there, too. I wonder what Neil Patrick Harris would have to say at such a panel - being that he's currently more freaking popular than ever. Who'd have ever thought that he'd be remembered now for more than Doogie Howser? People actually remember his real name now...

    Posted by: Ryan | Jul 13, 2009 11:46:59 AM

  5. Rupert Everett comes across as one of those incredibly anti-social, bitter queens who sits at the bar alone on Friday nights. It's this very negative aura that prevents him from becoming more mainstream.

    Neal Patrick Harris exudes a likeable everyman quality, and it gets him steady work in a number of high profile projects. Take note, Rupert.

    And vengeance upon la Everett for convincing Madonna to do both that wretched film with him and the ill-conceived cover of "American Pie".

    Posted by: Sean | Jul 13, 2009 11:48:43 AM

  6. Anyone see the irony that the top grossing movie this week was a gay themed comedy?

    Posted by: Trey | Jul 13, 2009 11:49:10 AM

  7. Nate --- it is our responsiblity to stand up against comments as stupid as these made by a director .... we should not tolerate or support an industry that promotes predjudice in this flippant way. It was also said "passing" blacks and Jews should never out themself as being African American or Jewish to help their careers at one point in our RECENT history. That was as wrong and disgusting then as his comments are now.

    Posted by: Willie | Jul 13, 2009 11:53:30 AM

  8. It's a bit ironic that an out, married director in Hollywood is telling actors his life is off limits to them. It may be realistic, but it's sad that it's the reality. As more and more "regular" people come out without blinking an eye, the Hollywood closet is going to seem more and more anachronistic. There's also the definition of "success." For some people, not living a lie and having a smaller career might define success better than being a miserable, closeted superstar.

    Many actors who have come out--bitter Rupert being a notable exception--seem to be doing just fine though, admittedly, it helped that they were established before they blew open the closet door.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jul 13, 2009 11:53:32 AM

  9. Bruno has something to say on this ... and zings a few famous closet cases in the process. Out those dumb fuckers already so this stops being an issue.

    Posted by: freddy | Jul 13, 2009 12:01:24 PM

  10. Holland is stating that a negative situation (since the straight counterparts have no problem flauting their female partners) is the way to go, that is called CYNISM.

    Posted by: FELIX | Jul 13, 2009 12:03:06 PM


    damn typos

    Posted by: FELIX | Jul 13, 2009 12:05:01 PM

  12. Cut out the generalizations and speak for yourself, Rupert. You're a bitchy, bitter man with almost zero name recognition who recently mangled the fuck out of your own face, which was the best thing you had going for you.

    Posted by: Aaron | Jul 13, 2009 12:08:52 PM

  13. Yes, Holland is just being honest. And he can go to hell.

    OF COURSE. If you want to maximize your casting opportunities to the ultimate degree, you lie about who you are. You pretend to be everything the public WANTS and nothing that challenges people's preconceptions. If you're more concerned about getting roles than anything else in the world, such as integrity, justice, or living in hiding about who you really are.

    People will do anything to achieve stardom. That doesn't make it right. Nor should Holland be advising people into a life of mental illness.

    A real star breaks the rules. An openly gay A-list star is just around the corner. And they'll obvously get no help from Holland.

    Posted by: adamblast | Jul 13, 2009 12:14:11 PM

  14. What Nate said. He's absolutely right. Todd knows what he's talking about.

    The reason everyone uses Rupert as an example is because he was red hot after the release of MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING. But then he did DUNSTON CHECKS IN followed by a bunch of period pieces and a movie with Madonna. He started saying unpopular things in the press and became unlikable. A few years later he started playing with plastic surgery. However, none of those projects were commercial successes. And it's not like people went to see SHREK because he was a voice.

    Still, he has not stopped working. He's a working actor. But he's not what Hollywood considers A-list.

    While it would be great if an A-lister "came out," it's going to take "discovering" a great gay talent who can become a star to really make an impact.

    Two of those A-listers that people keep hoping WILL come out are both married to women. IF one of them were to come out for some reason, they would have to answer a billion questions to the point that the audiences will feel "betrayed" and studios would fear that audiences would only see the controversy and the lies on the screen, as opposed to the actor playing a character.

    Talent that are considered A-list (can open a movie, put butts in seats) typically be those that star in action movies or comedies. Studios will not take a risk hiring an attractive gay male actor in the lead of a big time romantic comedy. Still, TR played opposite Sara and Katherine on GREYS and Neil can play a playboy on HIMYM. Both of these projects are ensembles.

    Neil Patrick Harris' coming out a few years ago was great because he sustained his career. Coming out didn't improve upon that. I'm willing to bet TR Knight will have a successful theatre career for a few years, do a few smaller roles in films and continue to work. But no casting director or producer said, "oh he came out? Quick, get him in TRANSFORMERS."

    Ultimately, it's going to take ballsy, creative casting directors to push for talent and in Hollywood, there are very few of those. And it really depends on the "product." If you're a character actor, over a certain age, or happen to have an accent, then coming out will not have as much impact than if you're in your 20s and look like Ryan Reynolds.

    I constantly have to remind myself that just because I live in Los Angeles and know many closeted actors (though, most everyone who reads this site knows know they are gay from rumors), the general movie ticket buying audience does not. Just look at the speculation with Adam Lambert and all the commenters on sites from people saying, "he's not gay! Gaa, you wish!"

    Coming out didn't hurt Adam, because it wasn't a huge stretch.

    I'm assuming the discussion at OutFest was in regards to having a "star" career. There are plenty of openly gay actors in Hollywood who have nice houses, drive nice cars and eat at nice restaurants working as "working actors." You just won't see them on the covers of magazines.

    Sorry for the long post. Just having worked in casting and working around the gatekeepers, I feel like I have a good idea of what they are saying and feel.

    Posted by: Chad | Jul 13, 2009 12:23:52 PM

  15. Ryan how about you shut the fuck up.The only bitter self hating gays are the ones like you.You expect every gay person to be just like you.A scrawny "head up the ass" flaming fem who does nothing but spew catty remarks to get attention and think that you are more worthy as a gay person because you bide by every single stereotype invented specially for ALL gay men and think that anyone who is not so out there with their sexual orientation is self-hating.Some of you Faggots (yeah I said it fuck what you bitches think) really need a reality check.Because yall are the type of pompus uptight bitches I will NOT affilate with.Old Mother Fuckers

    Posted by: Luigi | Jul 13, 2009 12:29:35 PM

  16. Holland can take his boney-assed self-hating cowardly comments all the way to a GLAAD AWARD BANQUET.

    GLAAD as I've said before is a worthless insiders cabal who thinks just cause they get to read scripts before they are "effective" when they need to be blackballing iddiots like this silly old thinking Todd Holland cause he is the reason YES HE IS THE REASON ACTORS STAY IN THE SELF LOATHING CLOSET--um MICHAEL UHRE

    Posted by: MCnNYC | Jul 13, 2009 12:35:48 PM

  17. LUIGI,

    you need a drink. Not a lot...just enough to get rid of that horrible hang-over. Take it from an Old Mother Fucker...a little vodka. No one on your job will smell it.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 13, 2009 12:47:53 PM

  18. Gee I guess Neil Patrick Harris should take the gas pipe. it's obvious his career is over.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 13, 2009 12:53:33 PM

  19. Maybe Rupert Everett is not getting work because he is a bitchy queen, not because he is gay?! He is sarcastic and has a chip on his shoulder. There are lots of out British actors who work continuously. But Everett continuously says disparaging things in the media about the industry. He is talented certainly. But talent and $50 will get you a bus ticket home!

    Posted by: gtoddm | Jul 13, 2009 12:57:25 PM

  20. Neil Patrick Harris is doing well because his brand was already established before his sexuality was publicized.

    I agree with Todd Holland. It is not a popular statement, but it is certainly very true.

    Why do you think Hugh Jackman spend so much time talking about his beard?

    Posted by: Landis | Jul 13, 2009 1:00:18 PM

  21. Well, just look at Andy's very next article. Ryan Seacrest just signed a $45 million 3-year deal. Would he have that deal if he was out of the closet (assuming, of course, that he's gay)? It's hard to tell. But if you were a gay Ryan Seacrest and working on getting a $45 million deal (or even a paltry $1 million dollar deal) and some advisers told you that coming out MIGHT screw that up.....would YOU really insist on coming out publicly?

    Posted by: Buster | Jul 13, 2009 1:14:03 PM

  22. I was at that panel, and though his words weren't received well, Todd's message was accurate. Honestly, I wish it weren't so, but so many here trot out bullsh*t accusations of closets and self-loathing, when in truth they have no idea what they're talking about. Name one OUT actor who's getting significant leading, or even high quality, supporting roles in larger scale films or TV series today. What's that, I hear? No one? And don't trot out Neil Patrick Harris as your example, because since he was outed (I love him for how he handled it -- but he was pressured to out himself because of an involuntary outing that was on the horizon), he hasn't done much more than play HIMSELF in commercials, awards shows, and participate in quirky, though not overtly commercial projects (see Dr. Horrible and Prop 8: The Musical). I would love for Hollywood to prove me wrong, but I suspect that when HIMYM is over, Neil's pool of potential roles isn't going to be as great as he and his talent deserves.

    Yes, someone needs to break the pattern, maybe even someone like Todd Holland. But he wasn't one iota wrong in what he said on that panel.

    Posted by: MrRoboto | Jul 13, 2009 1:19:53 PM

  23. But wasn't coming out supposed to spell the end of Neil Patrick Harris' careeer? Why the poor dear should have lost his TV show by now. What were those people thinking casting him in TWO new post-discosure movies?

    And surely the Emmy people must have made some sort of mistake in asking him to host their awards show.

    And speaking of other out performers Ian McKellan must surely regret his decision to come out. No one wants him for ANY movies anymore, right?

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 13, 2009 1:28:20 PM

  24. Could it be that Holland is projecting because his boyfriend can't get hired?

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 13, 2009 1:29:30 PM

  25. "Name one OUT actor who's getting significant leading, or even high quality"

    Does the name Ian McKellan ring a bell?

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 13, 2009 1:31:20 PM

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