Watch: Stanley Tucci has 'Difficulty' with Idea of Keeping Straight Actors Out of LGTBQ Roles

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday February 1, 2021

Stanley Tucci, who plays a gay character in the drama "Supernova," weighed in on straight and cisgender actors playing LGBTQ roles in an appearance on the CBS talk show Sunday Morning, CBS News reported.

Asked for his opinion about "criticism from some quarters saying that gay roles should be played by gay actors," Tucci responded, "I have difficulty with that."

Tucci went on to explain: "I think that acting is all about not being yourself. If we were to use that as a template, then we would only ever play ourselves."

But Tucci went on to say he was sympathetic with LGTBQ actors. "I think what we need to do, we need to give more gay actors opportunities.

"People who are gay have only recently, in the last few years really, have been able to say, 'I'm gay and I'm an actor and I can play straight roles,'" the 60-year-old star noted. "They always had to hide their sexuality so that they could play the leading man or leading woman."

Tucci plays a writer with early onset dementia in "Supernova." Colin Firth plays his husband, a concert pianist. The film follows the couple as they travel to a concert date for Firth's character, visiting relatives and favorite places as a kind of farewell tour for Tucci's character along the way.

Tucci played a part in getting the film made, encouraging Firth to co-star, the CBS News article noted.

Both actors are straight, and both have played gay roles before. Firth was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as the main character in the Tom Ford film "A Single Man." Tucci played memorable gay roles in "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Burlesque."

"Having played a number of gay characters, you want to do it so that it's, as you do with any character, you just want to be truthful to it," Tucci said in the Sunday Morning interview. The actor suggested that audiences are more open to mainstream films depicting same-sex couples, saying that, "people are starting to come around and understand that love is just love."

Debate around the the issue has been simmering for some time, with A-list straight actors like Saorise Ronan and Kate Winslet receiving some criticism for starring in the Francis Lee lesbian drama "Ammonite" last year, and Viggo Mortensen defending his decision to portray one of the main characters - the gay son of an elderly, homophobic father - in "Falling," a film that Mortensen also wrote and directed.

Ronan reportedly consulted with LGTBQ friends about her role; Mortensen issued the tart retort, "You're assuming that I'm completely straight" in response to questioning around his playing gay.

British television writer and showrunner Russell T. Davies, who wrote the original "Queer As Folk," likened straight actors taking LGBTQ parts to blackface while talking about having cast out actors in his latest show, the five-part miniseries "It's A Sin."

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.