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Jane Lynch Not Sure if Audiences Will Ever Accept Gay Actors in Straight Leading Roles

Jane Lynch adds her voice to the debate over gay actors and straight leading roles. She's not sure if audiences will ever buy it.

Says Lynch to AfterElton: Lynch

"I don’t know when or if that will ever happen. I think because since most of the world is straight — and maybe we'll get to a place where this will happen — most of the world is straight and we want the audience to project their hopes and dreams for love and romance onto those actors. And if it’s not in some way possible, maybe never probably, in their mind that it could never happen, then they're not going to do it. You know, most people are straight, and I think that’s probably why."

She adds:

"This is a business of projection and desiring people from afar. And watching people go through trials and tribulations, so there has got to be some truth to it, in terms of, "I could see myself with that person." Because the leading man and lady are the person we want them to fall in love with, and most of the audience is straight. So for right now, we can only use straight actors."

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  1. Uh oh. She's right, but boy did Richard Chamberlain get raked over the coals for saying the same thing recently.

    Posted by: Brent Z | Jan 13, 2011 2:12:52 PM

  2. i am not sure i agree with her. i watch a movie purely as an escape from reality. if i can imagine and believe 12' tall blue people from pandora i can pretty much believe anything, given that the actor is good at her job.

    Posted by: psgoodguy | Jan 13, 2011 2:16:03 PM

  3. The real deal SHOULD be that Hollywood makes movies reflecting the social mix in the same proportions as the society--which would make an appropriate percentage of gay roles available. This really should be a non-issue. But with Hollywood as notoriously hypocritically homophobic as it is, I see little chance of this happening in my lifetime. And yet, with the market acceptance of the proliferation of gay characters on television and, to a lesser extent, in film, why should it NOT be so?

    As the viewing public become increasingly exposed to kissing of same-sex couples it will be increasingly accepted. For the generation coming of age now this is a non-issue--except among the home-schooled and those taken to hate-churches.

    Posted by: Danny | Jan 13, 2011 2:22:58 PM

  4. It's a shame she's giving cold comfort to the people so desperate to believe the worst, even if she does it free of malice and bitterness, like Chamberlain or Everett.

    Jane Lynch is a goddess. She's also old. No, she's not Chamberlain old, but she's ancient to an 18 year old and the 18 year olds are the one who are driving this issue now. Someone Jane's age can't see what's happening among people decades younger. If she could, she'd know better.

    In short, she's wrong. It's great that she's free of bitterness and hate -- because of her spectacular and deserved success, and that she arrives at this conclusion despite of that -- but she's still wrong. We won this fight already, now we're just waiting for the kids we won it for to grow up and join our stars of today by being our stars of tomorrow.

    Posted by: justme | Jan 13, 2011 2:23:31 PM

  5. I love Jane Lynch, but I feel like the bigger problem is that being gay and out is still relatively new, particularly for celebraties. I think if we're able to move past the need to catergorize, identify and stigmatize people for being the "other", people will be able to have gay actors doing straight leading roles.

    Posted by: searunner | Jan 13, 2011 2:26:18 PM

  6. Jodie Foster is still not out...
    Sean Hayes is out but not working much...
    Catherine Moennig is sort of out and working only in shows not many people are watching, playing characters where her sexuality isn't explored at all...

    Posted by: Jerry | Jan 13, 2011 2:27:02 PM

  7. Correction:

    I love Jane Lynch, but I feel like the bigger problem is that being gay and out is still relatively new, particularly for celebraties. I think if we're able to move past the need to catergorize, identify and stigmatize people for being the "other", people will be able to "buy" gay actors doing straight leading roles.

    Posted by: searunner | Jan 13, 2011 2:29:31 PM

  8. Are we saying that Cheyenne Jackson is not convincing as a male lead? Seems like b.s.

    Posted by: MammaBear | Jan 13, 2011 2:32:36 PM

  9. I agree with JUSTME.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Jan 13, 2011 2:34:07 PM

  10. btw has anybody noted that this entire debate only seems to apply to gay MEN? Lots of people enjoy seeing portia de rossi act like a hetero with no problem.

    Posted by: Wes | Jan 13, 2011 2:37:07 PM

  11. Neil Patrick Harris is busy proving her wrong every day in his portrayal of uber-straight horndog Barney Stinson and he's 100% believable in the role. I'm not saying it's easy to break out of the stereotypes, but so long as actors are willing to play by Hollywood's rules and stay in the closet, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that people can't accept gays playing straight roles. Kind of like once upon a time people when couldn't possibly see women working outside the home.

    Posted by: Elli | Jan 13, 2011 2:37:17 PM

  12. Some say Hollywood mirrors society and vice versa. Thus, gay actors will be accepted as straight characters by audiences when gay people are more accepted in general and its not seen as some "block" to the audiences suspension of disbelief.

    Casting a gay actor under a straight role risks people not going to the theater or viewing the television screen because of that "block", which risks a loss in profit. The majority of studios don't want to take that risk and the rest are just homophobic. As JustMe pointed out, this could largely be a generational issue.

    Posted by: Leo | Jan 13, 2011 2:37:55 PM

  13. Perhaps this tendency toward rejection of gay actors in straight roles has some of its roots in what we call "gaydar." With society sponsoring homophobia left and right, that little brain tickle many people feel when exposed to someone gay has come to carry a negative connotation. Since acting is about fooling the audience into believing a character, that process may be interrupted when our brains tell us someone isn't of the right sexuality to be with another character. I'm reminded of that awful Spanish word used to describe gay people - "maricon." That word basically means "someone who is trying to trick you."

    Posted by: Bryant | Jan 13, 2011 2:44:21 PM

  14. @Wes

    It makes perfect sense why the entire debate applies to mostly gay men as Hollywood fuels and projects the society we live in.

    Today, lesbians support a male driven patriarchal structure whereby its implied that their service to straight men is porn fodder, forever playing the "underling" position. Gay men challenge the concept of a male always being "on top", both literally and figuratively, and thus the patriarchal structure rejects them.

    Posted by: Leo | Jan 13, 2011 2:46:23 PM

  15. Strange how readily audiences will accept a straight man in a gay role or a closeted gay man in a straight role.

    Hell, gay people can't even get GAY roles these days.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Jan 13, 2011 2:53:23 PM

  16. NPH doesn't prove anything except that he's a talented and marketable comedic actor. But romantic lead in a heterosexual context on the big screen - that will not happen.

    In Hollywood acting has always involved creating an image both on and off screen. Until the money guys are persuaded it won't hurt them, part of that image will mean guys creating a straight image. This is all about the money - like it or not.

    Posted by: justiceontherocks | Jan 13, 2011 2:57:16 PM

  17. Exactly Justice...

    EVERYONE seems to throw out the NPH card when we're actually talking about a romantic lead in a big blockbuster film. Would NPH ever be cast in something like that? I highly doubt it. I'd love to be proven wrong.

    Posted by: Leo | Jan 13, 2011 3:01:23 PM

  18. I sorta agree with Lynch but for different reasons. To pick up on her logic, "straight" is the biggest projection of them all! It's a carefully honed construct in Hollywood that keeps actors/actresses relatively blank as real sexual beings. That's what "straight is: blank. And that's why Charlie Sheen has never had a successful romantic comedy--his sex life is far from blank. "Gay" comes with assumptions, myths, etc. Until "gay" can be successfully commodified and exploited as "straight" is, until it reads blank, there won't be a romantic lead who is gay.

    Posted by: maxx40 | Jan 13, 2011 3:03:36 PM

  19. @Justme & Elli: don't forget, both Jane Lynch and Neil Patrick Harris won for best comedy acting at this year's People's Choice Awards. Pooh-pooh that as you may, but I believe most voters are aged 18-25.

    Posted by: Latebrosus | Jan 13, 2011 3:04:02 PM

  20. I'm not sure that we are all projecting our desires onto actors in roles. Seems a little too simplistic and backwards-Freudian to me.

    But to the extent that kind of thing is happening, I don't experience - as a gay man - any less gushiness over the straight love portrayed in the movies than does the person sitting next to me in the theater. Under Lynch's theory, shouldn't that be too foreign for me to deal with? So I call *bullshit* on her whack-job theory. Whether it's the studios or the audience, it's homophobia plain and simple if an actor's real-life sexuality inhibits you from buying into their pretend sexuality while you are happily buying into their pretend everything-else. Sheesh.

    Posted by: Zlick | Jan 13, 2011 3:06:21 PM

  21. Agree with Tampazeke. I love Jane, but this is like saying Brokeback Mountain wasn't believable because the actors are straight. C'mon. Of course it was.

    Posted by: PB | Jan 13, 2011 3:07:43 PM

  22. Yeah. Right. That's why I've never had a sex dream about Ryan Reynolds.

    Posted by: HellsCook | Jan 13, 2011 3:16:26 PM

  23. jane is right, in the context of the hollywood leading man and the whole rom-com thing.
    but the thing about hollywood is that if they'd make better movies with varried characters, or blockbusters that just need action stars, not leading men, then there would be thousands of roles that gays and lesbians could take and not just be the sassy gay best friend.

    Posted by: stolidog | Jan 13, 2011 3:27:28 PM

  24. God you guys are being so stupid.

    It isn't that complicated.

    A woman in the mid west or mid country internationally,like to think that the person they fancy, will, maybe if not realistically be involved with them but they wish, they could be.

    Come on, think about that.

    Why would we have media if people were not obsessed with their projections? We all have them, especially in relationships!

    Posted by: Rowan | Jan 13, 2011 3:40:00 PM

  25. ...cause no girl has ever fantasied about turning a gay man straight, if only for a night.

    ...and no gay guy has ever fantasied about turning a straight man gay...

    Posted by: Greg | Jan 13, 2011 3:48:52 PM

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