Worlds & Time

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Gay Roles, Straight Actors

I'm thinking through an idea that has been in my head for a long time.  This is the criteria:

  • Relatively large budget, which basically means I'm excluding movies that I haven't heard of.
  • Gay male central character, at least out of the top two.
Where possible, what is the sexuality of the actor in the leading role?

Brokeback Mountain (2005): Neither Heath Ledger or Jack Gyllenhaal are gay.

Call me By Your Name (2017): Armie Hammer is straight and married.

Milk (2008): Sean Penn is straight and was married.

Capote (2005): Philip Seymour Hoffman was straight and married.

Moonlight (2016): Mahershala Ali is straight and married.

A Single Man (2009): Colin Firth is straight and married.

Philidelphia (1993): Tom Hanks is straight and married.

Mysterious Skin (2004): Joseph Gordon-Levitt is straight and now married.

Love, Simon (2018): Nick Robinson is straight.

Love is Strange (2014): John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are both straight and married.

The Imitation Game (2014): Benedict Cumberbatch is straight and married.

Rocketman (2019): Taron Egerton's sexuality is unknown.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999): Matt Damon is straight and married

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018): (Although Freddie Mercury was bisexual) Rami Malek is straight.

Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994): Hugo Weaving is straight but unmarried.  Guy Pierce is straight and has been married.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001): John Cameron Mitchell is . . . vague.  Probably gay.

Latter Days (2003) Wes Ramsey and Steve Sandvoss are both listed as unmarried in IMDB.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975): Al Pacino is straight.

The Broken Hearts Club (2000): Ben Weber is straight and married.

The Boys in the Band (1970): The majority of the cast appears to be openly gay.

Billy Elliot (2000): Jamie Bell is straight and married.

To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995): Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo are all straight and married. Patrick Swayze has since passed away of pancreatic cancer.  

A Single Man (2009): Colin Firth is straight and married.

Maurice (1987): All three of the primary actors in this, James Wilby, Rupert Grave, and Hugh Grant, are straight and married.

The Birdcage (1996): Robin Williams was straight and married. Nathan Lane is openly gay.

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009): Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor are both straight and married.

Wilde (1997): Stephen Fry is openly gay.

Querelle (1982): Brad Davis was straight and married.  Franco Nero is straight and married.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997): John Cusack is straight . . . famously.  Kevin Spacey is (now) openly gay.

In & Out (1997): Kevin Kline is straight and married.

The Skeleton Twins (2014): Bill Hader is straight and was married.

Bruno (2009): Sacha Baron Cohen is straight and married.

The Happy Prince (2018):  Rupert Everett is openly gay.

The Final Portrait (2017): Geoffrey Rush is straight and married.

Jeffrey (1995): Steven Weber is straight and married.

Trick (1999): Christian Campbell is straight and married.  John Paul Pitoc is unclear.

All Over the Guy (2001): Dan Bucatinsky is gay and married.

The Opposite of Sex (1997): (skipping over Christina Ricci as main character) Martin Donovan is straight and married.

A Home at the End of the World (2004): Dallas Roberts is straight and married and Colin Farrell is Colin Farrell.

Other People (2016): Jesse Plemons is straight and has a son.

Alex Strangelove (2018): Daniel Doheny is unknown.

The Cakemaker (2017): Tim Kalkhof is unknown.

So that's every single movie that I can think of that features a gay male lead or central character.  Somewhere around 57 parts, 52 excluding The Boys in the Band which is kind of a special case.  At best, 6 are openly gay, giving me 11.54% of the movies about gay men featuring gay actors.

Also, none of the big budget films seem to be headed by gay men.  The largest to feature a gay man is The Birdcage, which has Nathan Lane in a support role (WWG is $185 million as per IMDB).

The runner up is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, in which Spacey is also only a supporting character ($25 million).

That means that the highest grossing film in which a gay man is played by a gay man isn't even that. Hedwig and the Angry Inch has a WWG of $3.6 million.  At least, assuming that Taron Eggerton is straight (he's probably straight, despite his IMDB page having multiple quotes from him gushing about the physiques of his male costars. 

Edited: The reason that Boys in the Band is a special case and not included is that it was directly adapted from a stage play of the same name and the cast of the play directly reprise their roles in the film. They were all openly gay, and none of them had significant careers in film after this.

Also, added Talented Mr. Ripley 7/26/20

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