Out Film Star Rupert Everett: Straight Actors Should Play Gay...Except Maybe not Colin Firth

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Sunday May 22, 2022
Originally published on May 19, 2022

Rupert Everett
Rupert Everett  (Source:Taylor Jewell/AP)

In an interview on Piers Morgan's talk show, out film star Rupert Everett opened up about his opinions regarding LGBTQ+ actors and who should play what sorts of roles, UK newspaper the Independent reported.

His verdict on the subject? "I don't think gay actors should just play the gay roles," the 62-year-old actor said. "I think that the gay actors should be able to play the straight roles too."

By the same token, the out actor said, "I think some straight guys played great gay roles." Everett gave as an example Tom Hanks' work in the 1993 Ron Nyswaner-written film "Philadelphia," and also cited Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in the 2013 Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra," the newspaper noted.

But that praise did not extend to all straight actors in gay roles; specifically, the Huffington Post reported, he expressed annoyance at Colin Firth's casting as a gay man in Tom Ford's 2009 film "A Single Man."

Calling that casting choice "frustrating," and suggesting that the role should have been his, Everett told Morgan that his response to the film was, "'Well, thanks, Colin, that's the end of my career.'"

Moreover, Everett told Morgan, "I think the question is more 'Why can't gay actors play straight roles?'" the Independent related. "We shouldn't be making rules about this," Everett said. "It's great for gay actors who've had quite a hard time, you know historically, to be playing more roles to be getting the game."

Everett, who rose to international fame in 1984 with the role of Guy Bennett in the gay-themed British drama "Another Country," has built up an impressive body of work, starring in the 1997 hit "My Best Friend's Wedding," voicing the part of Prince Charming in all three "Shrek" movies, and recently completing work on the upcoming gay-themed film "My Policeman" (also written by Nyswaner), which stars Harry Styles as a gay police officer in the 1960s.

But the actor has said that coming out — which he did in 1989, long before it was considered professionally safe to do so — put a damper on his career. "The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business," Everett declared in 2009.

That said, he added that he was successful in other, more meaningful ways. Comparing himself to LGBTQ+ actors who have remained in the closet, Everett said, "I think, all in all, I'm probably much happier than they are. I may not be as rich or successful, but at least I'm vaguely free to be myself."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.