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

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.


  1. nate says

    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.

  2. Funbud says

    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.

  3. says

    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…

  4. Sean says

    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”.

  5. Willie says

    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.

  6. says

    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.

  7. freddy says

    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.

  8. FELIX says

    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.

  9. says

    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.

  10. adamblast says

    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.

  11. says

    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.

  12. Luigi says

    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

  13. MCnNYC says

    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

  14. Derrick from Philly says


    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.

  15. gtoddm says

    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!

  16. Landis says

    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?

  17. Buster says

    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?

  18. MrRoboto says

    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.

  19. says

    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?

  20. anon says

    I am almost certain Todd Holland is the man who called me a faggot after a traffic altercation in West Hollywood a few months ago. If Holland drives a black Bentley Continental GT, then he is the guy.

  21. JimmyD says

    I guess it’s really easy for people who will never be in the public spotlight to JUDGE and criticize how other people chose to live their lives.
    It’s also easy to judge and criticize personalities of people that one has never spent any quality time with.
    It must be empowering to feel that everyone should act/behave/live in the exact manner that other people have deemed THE RIGHT WAY TO ACT/BEHAVE/LIVE.

    MY WAY or NO WAY.

    Where have I hear that before…?

  22. MrRoboto says

    Any more, David? You’ve got Neil and Ian who’ve bucked the trend. There are a helluva lot more out actors. I know tons of ’em who can’t get any job beyond the gay friend of the female lead. And I’m talking about high profile films and TV projects, not festival-play indies that go straight to video or Logo.

    One question I have for everyone who wants gay actors to all suddenly burst forth and pronounce that they’re gay is: Do you do that in your life? Do you put on your resume? “I’m a gay teacher… librarian… construction worker… banker… etc, etc, etc.” Because coming out as a gay actor puts that emphatically on your resume for every job you go for in the future. All it takes is a Google search for the casting agent to find that out. And if that’s not on your resume, why are you asking actors to do it?

    I’m not advocating DADT in hiring. I’m saying, being gay is almost always irrelevant to the job you’re performing. And acting is job.

  23. kujhawker says

    I agree with Todd want to be famous stay in the closet, make lots of films and make lots of money. Have a few beards, sleep with some male prostitutes, almost get exposed, pay people off. Then become a bitter old closeted queen, rely on pills and drink to get you through, go to rehab, get out, go back in. Then at 50 when you are no longer making films come out, the Advocate will put you on the cover and GLAAD will give you an award and you become a poster boy.

    Todd was right in is statement but did the gay community damage by advising people to stay closeted.

    I say be open and honest. It may limit you, you may find yourself not getting the A list film roles. But you will be happier. And eventually the public will wonder why didn’t they give that role in that new movie to that great gay TV actor rather than the guy who can’t act.

  24. adamblast says

    Your final graph confuses me, Mr. Roboto. You’re *exactly* advocating DADT in hiring, and saying being gay is *so* relevant to one’s ability to do this particular job that it must be hidden at all costs.

  25. says

    “There are a helluva lot more out actors. I know tons of ’em who can’t get any job beyond the gay friend of the female lead. And I’m talking about high profile films and TV projects, not festival-play indies that go straight to video or Logo.”

    Gee maybe they’re WORTHLESS PIECE OF SHIT LIKE YOU!!!!

    As ofr straight to video or Logo,” Chad Allen and Charlie David are mighty fine.
    Such a shame Scoth Ellis Loring ca’t rise to their level.

  26. Gayalltheway says

    Shame on him for saying that gays and lesbians should stay in the closet if they want to succeed in the industry. It’s that kind of thinking that is holding our community back. And his single statement undermines all the efforts of fighting for equality for the LGBT community.
    Whether it’s reality or not, NO ONE should stay in the closet for any reason. If you really have talents, then it doesn’t matter if you are asexual or whatever, you will still be offered roles that people think are suitable to you. i.e. Neil Patrick Harris.
    All I want to say is that there are many more important and significant things in life than one’s acting career. Living in the closet is living a lie. He is basically saying to these “young, gay actors” to live a life that is full of lies and concerns that one might find out about their sexuality.
    As for Rupert Everett, he’s a no talent drama queen – and he should stop blaming others for not offering roles to him because he is gay. He should consider going back to acting school first.

  27. SFshawn says

    Closet cases will always defend closet cases. Dishonesty only leads to more dishonesty. Good luck with that.

  28. Michael Patrick says

    Great comment about Todd’s boyfriend, David!
    YOu crack me up.
    Yeah, nice job, Todd. Thanks for sticking up for the gay people, you homophobic creep, especially at Outfest.

  29. Mrroboto says

    Damn, David, you paint with some pretty broad strokes. I don’t think I could find many points I’d disagree with you on, but I wouldn’t immediately resort to calling you a piece of shit. Out of everyone posting here, I’d give you the most credibility because you are in fact quite out in your chosen profession, and so that essentially does appear on your resume for anyone looking close enough.

    Look, I’m not trying to cast any negative light on any gay actor who is publicly out. More power to them. I count many of them as friends. Nonetheless I’m not going to join the bullshit demands here that all gay actors should out themselves or immediately be termed self loathing or closet cases. They’re human beings just like you. They need to pay the rent just like you. And their sexuality should not prevent them from a getting a good job in their chosen profession. But in Hollywood, it does. That’s their reality and I’m not going to throw insults or epithets at them for choosing not to come out on the cover of People.

  30. says

    It’s not “bullshit” and it’s not a “demand.” Kevin Spacey can go right on bieng Kevin Spacey. Just don’t ask me to take him seriously.

    What Holland said was monstrous and demonstrably false.

    It’s hard to get work as an actor, no matter whatimgaining that the closet will protect you is folly, cause Hollywood ‘s a very small town and everyone knows about everything.

    Looking down one’s knows at out actors working on Logo is most unbecoming.

  31. says

    Speech is the new artificial threshold. Michael Urie thinks he’s “safe” because he won’t “say” that he’s gay. He gets this notion from the “Mainstream” media which insists that it won’t “out” anyone who doesn’t “say” they’re gay — gossiping from here to the moon all the while. They then use this to “re-closet” people who were never in the closet — like Adam Lambert __ just so they can preside over the official spectacle of a fromal “I’m Gay” declaration.

    THen there are weirdies like Anderson Cooper — who used to be out but after becoming a “Name” decided to go back in. But at the same time he hasn’t given up Julio nad has been seen with him everywhere. Who the fuck does he think he’s kidding?

  32. says

    If an actor wants to stay closeted, that’s his own business. (Hypocritical anti-gay politicians are another story.) At the same time, no one should be guarding their closet doors. And in a tell-all 24/7 blog world, those closet doors are going to become harder and harder to maintain without going to extraordinary lengths. Closeted actors made sense in the 50s, when nearly everyone was closeted. As we move forward, remaining closeted is going to become more and more weird and out of synch with the times. I hope there comes a time when talent (talent is probably more of an obstacle than sexuality for some who blame the latter) and being out with integrity is more acceptable than a sham existence. I understand Holland’s argument (Hollywood has its own rules), but it’s still odd that he’s telling other human beings to avoid the life he has made for himself–being out and married. But I suppose Hollywood is full of such ironies, or it wouldn’t be Hollywood.

    Luigi, honey, I think there’s a bottle of Ativan with your name on it.

  33. MrRoboto says

    Not looking down my nose at those who work on Logo at all. In fact, I’m quite impressed by those who make a living doing that. What I’m saying is that when your pool of roles is gay indies and Logo fare, you are generally very poorly compensated in comparison to your peers. Many make only scale on those roles, if that. They don’t make much in residuals, if they make anything at all. They’re often not union-supported productions, so they don’t get health care credit.

  34. ty says

    Most businesses has a bias against gays. It stems from religious belief rather than science and fact.
    Here’s an antidote: Don’t deny your sexuality, just butch it up a bit.

  35. Daniel says

    Rupert should have done what all smart actors do as they age – become a producer or director.

  36. says

    I started writing gay characters in college as a reaction to the “heterosexual dictatorship” crying for more sex and profit. I’m straight, female and I don’t care to be told what to write. Logo is great but “preaching to the choir”. Mainstream America is a strange place, for many reasons, but I doubt it will changed much until we are all prepared to sacrifice a little cold comfort.

  37. Clem says

    I find it hard to believe that if a really big star came out they would never get good work again–except maybe the ones who’ve married, bearded 24/7 and generally lied day and night to their fans. That level of lying will be hard for people to swallow. But others, just not buying it.

    And people always trot out the no-talents as an example, and try to scare everyone else into not coming out. Shame on Holland for doing that. I know NPH works in tv and that makes him different, but what also makes him different is he actually has some talent, and that is a big reason why he keeps working.

  38. Theatreboy says

    Back in the eighty’s I lived with an up and coming actor. Yes, he represented himself as straight in the streets gay in the sheets. Closeted in our relationship but deeply passionate in our love for each other.Our close friends knew and we were happy perhaps young and naive at the time though.His profile got to the point that he was auditioning for sitcom castings and movie parts first rung but a start. We started to hear gossip of our relationship around town and it got to the point that a journalist called our house to ask if we knew each other. No shit, as I was the one answering the bloody phone I was in the theatre at the time, though not high profile or so I thought. We decided to not answer as we felt it private. We stayed together for 6 plus years and rolled with the choice but leading roles seemed to evaporate and though not yet twenty-eight it seemed he was not able to be in the same room any more when career building chances are given. Can I prove this no I
    can’t but you know, deep down you just know!
    Please, before you judge my relationship our choices were both his and mine and though we aren’t together any more I’m most happy we did it together too.I keep this anonymous as he is still around but not with me so coming out is his choice not mine.

  39. robert ryan says

    Come on people this is 2009 not 1959! Rupert’s not getting work has more to do w/ poor choices than being gay. If an established “A” lister were to come out tomorrow I think they wouldn’t have as much trouble as some people think. All it takes is a little creative thinking on the part of producers and directors.I;d like to think we’ve come a little farther than this.

  40. nick says

    David, its true, Mckellan is a good example of an out gay actor getting work in high quality films,
    Though the truth is that he didnt come out till he was almost 50, meaning that he had passed his romantic lead stage; though he has always been more of a character actor than a romantic lead.
    Britain, and Denmark where I am from originally is generally better in terms of not really be that bothered with Star Systems and sexuality, but its hard to imagine a Tom Cruise/ Will Smith/ or other A list romantic lead/ action lead being out in hollywood today

  41. says

    The hatred people feel toward Rupert Everett is strange. He was openly gay before Ian McKellan was, and it did hurt his career. Yeah, he’s bitter, but he has a right to be. He is a towering pioneer in gay visibility, someone who the commenters here should recognize as having made an enormous contribution to the history of out performers. People who reduce him to a an ill-considered remark and a bad face lift are ignorant.

  42. says

    The received wisdom was the same for musical acts, but that lie is slowly being put to rest. No-one thought a gay artist could be successful in the UK, then Will Young came along. Adam Lambert will repeat that success in the US. Guys like John Barrowman and Neil Patrick Harris are proving that TV actors can be out and successful. It will happen in movies as well, when someone has the guts to stand up and be the first. I don’t blame Todd Holland for lacking the vision to see it. Everyone is gutless in the entertainment industry.

  43. Wheezy says

    @ Todd Holland, fuck you. Guys like you in Hollywood are the reason why actors like Rupert Everett are bitter has-beens and unsuccessful. I know if I had to deal with closet-queens like you, who’d stab somebody with actual guts to come out in the back, I’d be pretty freakin’ bitter too.

    @ Luigi, fuck you too. Scrawny flaming femmes usually can’t pass for straight…unlike you “straight acting” guys who’re so desperate to “butch it up” and be “normal” so the mainstream weelly, weely wikes you!

  44. says

    Rupert Everett could have been a pioneer, but he’s a Total Bitch who has fucked up more projects than I can name in one post. He could have had it all but he’s impossible. This has nothing to d with gayness, and everything to do with Bitchiness.

    As for staying in the clsoet its done wonders for Sean Hayes’ career, hasn’t it boys and girls?

  45. says

    Un futuro Sir Rupert Everett

    por Oscar Portela

    Trabajar con Madonna en Hollywood de segundón o con Cameron Díaz es Hollywood. Simple queridísimos amigos : o se debe esperar – pero no para sus grandes interpretaciones- lo que esperó sir John Gilgud que solo en las manos de Welles, de Resnais, de Wajda, de Grenneway, dió la luminosidad y el “empaque” o la elegancia del buen decir,que un actor de sus quilates merecía.

    ¿Pero Rupert Everett como un figurín de Julia Robert?

    Basta: desde que Kaniesvka lo lanzó en “Otro país” todo supimos que estábamos en presencia de un Sir: su carrera no fue prodiga ni por los títulos que lo jalonan ni por sus directores, pero siempre su presencia basto para mostrar que esa progenie de los Bogarde, de los Mason, de los Gilgud, estaba en el de un modo imperial e imperioso.

    No importan algunos títulos como “Crónica de una muerte anunciada” de Rossi u otras que nunca le hicieron honor a su talento y a su aura. Pero hace poco lo vi en un especial ingles haciendo el papel de “Sherlock Holmes” – el cocainómano genial – y la producción, las actuaciones, todo era equiparale a la recreación del Londres de Tim Burton acompañando a Johnny Depp.

    Solo que la actuación de Everett fué soberbia tanto como el Londres allí recreado. Depp es solo un actorcillo americano comparado con él, con su autoridad, con el modo de exteriorizar los momentos más tensos y dramáticos que su personaje exigía.

    Un personaje diría yo creado por el, dignificado por el, exprimido hasta las miasmas por su genio que espera y esperará un director que le diga: Sir Rupertt “ he aquí el papel que le teníamos reservado”.

    Mientras tanto en las tablas de Londres – en aquellas donde fracasó Brando – todas son guirnaldas para el actor fílmico de “La importancia de llamarse Ernesto”.

    Sin exagerar Rupertt es un emulo total de sir Alex Guinnes.

    Oscar Portela

  46. says

    In or out, think about joining The Great Nationwide Kiss-In to support equality.

    Crazy people are getting away with murder because “gay panic” is a justifiable defense. Why is one person’s life worth less than another?

    Talk it up with your friends, family and co-workers and reach out to LGBT allies:

    And put equality where your mouth is.

  47. Rob West says

    Ian McKellan is great but not a leading man.
    We still have a way to go, before a leading man steps out. Neil Patrick Harris is close, but also not a leading man.
    From the comments here, I can’t imagine the hot coals the first will have to walk on, every choice he makes will be criticized, by both Gay and Straight.