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Ramin Setoodeh: Not Only Can Gay Actors Not Play Straight, They Aren't Allowed to Play Gay Either

Newsweek writer Ramin Setoodeh, who claims he was labeled such a "traitor" following his article suggesting that gay actors can't play straight that he couldn't "walk through New York’s gay neighborhoods without causing a stir," revisited Promises, Promises ("afraid somebody would call the GLAAD police if I were spotted") and had a revelation, he writes, in The Daily Beast:

I realized that I had been all wrong. Setoodeh

It’s not just that audiences don’t often see openly gay actors in straight roles. What’s even more unsettling is that Hollywood doesn’t even allow gay actors to play gay. With the film industry swept up in the congratulatory swirl of awards season, not a single openly gay actor is up for an Oscar nomination. Of course, that’s probably because no openly gay actors even starred in any big films of 2010. The lovable lesbian wives in The Kids Are All Right were played by the heterosexual actresses Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. The quirky couple in I Love You Phillip Morriswere portrayed by straight men Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.

Setoodeh agrees with Rupert Everett, who claims he was shut out of roles after he came out, offering a laundry list of straight actors — Stanley Tucci, Eric Dane and Bradley Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Greg Kinnear, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sean Penn, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Tom Hanks, and Robin Willians — who have played gay roles.

Setoodeh's argument:

"The rationale for these casting decisions is a Catch-22. You could argue that no one gay is on the A-list, so Hollywood has to hire straight people to fill those roles. But it also has to do with something else. Society still shows a prejudice against gay people, especially those who fit the stereotype: feminine men and masculine women. If you’re willing to hide your sexuality, that’s another story."

He stands by his gay-straight claims about Promises, Promises, adding: "You know what Promises, Promises really needed? Something that would have revived this worn-out revival—a leading man for Sean Hayes."

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  1. Aww come on if Ewan McGregor can play the "blond queer" role so well and Johnny Depp a cross-dresser despite being straight I am sure a gay guy who is 100% effeminate in real life can play macho roles in reel. I am sure that some of the closeted leading men of yesteryears - when privacy was a possibility - were queer as they come.

    Posted by: SJ | Jan 3, 2011 9:51:41 AM

  2. @markdc Stupid gaytard? That's not a very intelligent assessment buddy

    Posted by: George | Jan 3, 2011 9:56:03 AM

  3. The whole point of being a professional actor is that you have the talent to perform roles personalities and traits that are utterly different to your own reality. Your own genuine cultural or sexual identity ought to be irrelevent.

    Posted by: Den | Jan 3, 2011 10:09:59 AM

  4. Gay men have been playing straight leads for years. Rock Hudson, James Dean, Tab Hunter, Montgomery Clift, John Travolta, Cary Grant, Richard Chamberlain, Sal Mineo.......on to the next bullshit argument....

    A homo can play a straight romantic hetero leading man and be perceived as straight by a female audience(Tom Cruise).

    But once you're out(Rupert Everett) and the audience envisions you sucking another man's cock, you've lost credibility, it becomes laughable to the audience.

    It isn't prejudice, it's just sexual perception .

    Posted by: Dan | Jan 3, 2011 10:16:22 AM

  5. Name one out actor in the business who's actually compelling enough on any level to play the A-list roles? R. Everett? Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Lane...

    If these are the pnly choices, then they may as well cast Reichen Lemkuhl in Hamlet.

    Posted by: JK | Jan 3, 2011 10:30:57 AM

  6. Dan, agree 100 percent.

    JK Everett did play a leading man in Importance of being Earnest and in quite a few solid UK films back in the day.

    Matt Bomer plays straight and is leading man. Quinto not so much. Jim Parsons nah.

    Bradley Cooper is gay. Franco is gay. I can say more, it's just that they aren't out.

    Posted by: Rowan | Jan 3, 2011 10:41:00 AM

  7. Ian Kellen, one of the greatest actors in history and gay gay gay.

    Posted by: Wes | Jan 3, 2011 10:42:40 AM

  8. McKellen*

    Posted by: Wes | Jan 3, 2011 10:51:31 AM

  9. The real problem imo is people have such a morbid curiosity about peoples sex lives until it overshadows the art. It affects showbiz as a whole, not just actors. Until we stop affixing the tag, "openly gay ____" to people promoting a movie or cd, we will not get past this. This is also why so many people don't come out. They want to be acknowleded for their performance on screen, not in bed.

    Posted by: dk | Jan 3, 2011 11:44:56 AM

  10. McKellen, gay, yes and working yes, but...has NEVER been a romantic leading man. Richard Gere in the closet and works as a lead non-stop.

    The deal breaker in casting "gay as straight"...women are just not going to plunk $$ down for a movie ticket to watch Rupert Everett having sex with Angelina Jolie.

    On the other hand..."Straight as gay" casting works because it plays into the fantasy that gay men already have about sex with straight men.

    Gay audiences will flock to see Gyllenhaal and Ledger boning each other, because it's wishful thinking and not much of stretch from what they already want to see and do themselves. Hollywood knows this and manipulates and milks it.

    BTW, most of the big casting agents and talent management power brokers(Huvane Bros.) are wickedly gay men and are the one's making these casting decisions.

    Why aren't they casting gay actors if they have the power to do so in their hands?


    Posted by: Dan | Jan 3, 2011 12:02:39 PM

  11. This guy's big revelation is that there is still prejudice in society?

    Posted by: justiceontherocks | Jan 3, 2011 12:13:29 PM

  12. Setoodeh writes, "If you’re willing to hide your sexuality, that’s another story." He might want to pause for a moment and consider that hiding your sexuality IS acting. And large numbers of gay actors do it successfully. I'd like to see that change, i.e. a lot more talented actors coming out. But to argue that, in effect, being gay per se makes you a bad actor is pure hogwash.

    Posted by: jomicur | Jan 3, 2011 12:13:52 PM

  13. Setoodeh's point that gay actors can act but are not given work is well taken. MarkDC also has a point about cultural identity vs. sexual orientation but veers off into a train wreck.
    Internalized gay-phobia (as opposed to homophobia?) is a luxury afforded only to those who can "act" straight/butch with little effort. He assumes that those who can't are adopting some gay identity or are "weak"? I disagree. I think there is much more pressure to "act" straight for the fey than there is for the butch to "gay" it up. And, more tolerance afforded them both within the community and in the mainstream. In fact, I would argue that non-butch straight men (often perceived of as gay) get more grief than macho gay men get.
    MarkDC: Quit your whining you sissy.

    Posted by: GAYLY | Jan 3, 2011 12:41:44 PM

  14. @Dan spare me the "sexual perception" jazz

    Its quite simple that this heterosexist society is still suffering from its own anti-gay prejudices.And we are being forced their anti-gay garbage.

    Posted by: Rocky | Jan 3, 2011 1:05:42 PM

  15. His list of "straight" actors is a joke. I count about 50% mo' there...

    Posted by: RDUB | Jan 3, 2011 1:29:48 PM

  16. MARKDC is a classic card carrying ANDRO FAG

    Posted by: Heinz Schmidt | Jan 3, 2011 2:28:09 PM

  17. Who cares what this fool says his writing is so bad it looks like he failed fourth grade English glass and that got his Journalism degree from some low rent correspondence course run of a strip mall in Nebraska.

    Posted by: David | Jan 3, 2011 2:54:34 PM

  18. Setoodeh keeps digging himself deeper and deeper into a hole with every word he writes -- gay actors can't possibly play straight, but he now complains that gay actors are not getting the handful of mainstream gay roles anyway. Given his logic, I guess all gay actors should just give up and go home.

    Posted by: D.B. | Jan 3, 2011 3:12:34 PM

  19. @rocky

    We are forcing our own anti-gay garbage in the media by our own gay media power brokers. Reinforcing stereotypes and misconceptions under the guise of entertainment.

    Example: Bravo Channel's programming and mangement is predominantly in the hands of gay men(Andy Cohen and Co.). Do they cast legitimate gay and lesbian people? They have the power to do so. Instead, they choose to air the reality coonery and buffoonery we currently see with Mizrahi, Tim Gunn, Carson Kressly, Jeff West(Flipping Out), Andy Cohen, etc...there is no legitimate representation of our community just assinine bitchery, swish and flamboyance.

    Audiences aren't laughing with them but AT them.

    And then we whine that it's prejudice. Tell that to Andy Cohen. Tell that to the Huvane Bros, in Hollywood, they're raking in the money while we play the blame game.

    Posted by: Rich | Jan 3, 2011 3:37:57 PM

  20. We're forcing a 12 inch foot into a 7 inch shoe here!

    No one wants to see an out of the closet gay man play a straight romantic role any more than they want to see Gaby Sidibe play a scantily clad, sexy femme fatale role.

    Coming out will always be career suicide for any gay man who wants to play straight.

    Posted by: HB | Jan 3, 2011 4:23:25 PM

  21. "No one wants to see an out of the closet gay man play a straight romantic role any more than they want to see Gaby Sidibe play a scantily clad, sexy femme fatale role.

    Coming out will always be career suicide for any gay man who wants to play straight."

    That's right, HB. That's why Neal Patrick Harris doesn't have a leading role on a popular television show and has not been able to find any work since he came out.

    As more actors do it, it will become a nonissue and people will accept gay actors in romantic straight roles. Same things were said about people "not wanting to see a black man in a leading romantic role". The audience will evolve if we don't play into the worst common denominator prejudices about what they "want to see."

    Posted by: StillmarriedinCA | Jan 3, 2011 5:03:01 PM

  22. @rocky how can it be prejudice if all along gay men have been working and thriving as A-list stars in hetero roles going back to the days of Rudolph Valentino?

    Revelation of one's sexuality is what takes you out of column A and puts you into column B. If James Franco announces he's gay, he's no longer fuckable to chicks.

    I don't watch Sylvester Stallone because I think he's all hetero macho swagger. There's nothing in it for me as homosexual audience participant.

    Posted by: Devon | Jan 3, 2011 5:09:34 PM

  23. @StillmarriedinCA It's arguable, but NPH will NEVER be an A-lister.

    We'll see what the trajectory of career is after his grade B sit com runs it's course.

    I suspect he'll be relegated to the Tony Randall, Roddy McDowell level of stardom and offered TV, moives, Broadway parts and musicals ala Sean Hayes. But NPH will NEVER be considered for a certain calibre of scripts and roles and you know it.

    He'll never be a Damon, or a Pitt or a Clooney(closeted gay?) and command the big bucks.

    Posted by: HB | Jan 3, 2011 5:17:55 PM

  24. I see it now, NPH in a remake of "The Way We Were".

    Posted by: Tico | Jan 3, 2011 5:21:41 PM

  25. I suggested Rupert Everett needs to be 'excommunicated' from the glbt community in that blog... I think we can add Setoodeh to the list. I'm very glad he doesn't feel comfortable walking in the 'gayborhoods.' He shouldn't. Free speech doesn't mean speech without consequences. If he wants to be a self-hater who can't see reality (that actors can be out and proud and do well in the industry, a la NPH and Ellen), we aren't suddenly obligated to go out of our way to be *nice* to him.

    Posted by: Ryan | Jan 3, 2011 6:17:28 PM

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