The Game of Thrones star called the debate over straight actors playing LGBTQ+ roles “restrictive and counterproductive.”
An increasingly huge talking point in 2021 has been the debate over whether cisgender, heterosexual actors should be afforded roles playing LGBTQ+ characters.
The main argument being that often, in movie/ TV world, after coming out, queer actors will say that the industry is hesitant to give them certain parts because they cannot ‘believably’ play straight. This gives straight actors, who don’t face the same prejudice in reverse, an advantage and, in turn, stops many LGBT+ actors from coming out and living their truth because they are ‘terrified’ it will negatively impact their career.
In addition, many believe that the queer experience is so personal it can only authentically be portrayed by someone who has actually lived it.
The counterargument then being that the job of an actor is to embody inauthentic roles all the time, so why should them being straight make a difference if they’re the best person for the role and to tell the story?
Earlier this year, Jake Gyllenhaal reflected proudly on his iconic role in the seminal gay romance Brokeback Mountain, meanwhile Eddie Redmayne called his Bafta-nominated casting as a trans woman in The Danish Girl ‘a mistake’.
Now, in an interview with The Guardian, Game of Thrones star Sean Bean has opened up about playing trans in critically acclaimed BBC drama Accused back in 2012. Bean played a bored English teacher named Simon who goes out during the evening as Tracie.
In the interview, Bean touched on his casting, saying: “I come from a generation that started in repertory theatre, playing a different role each week. The aim was to play as many parts as possible. Whereas there’s a tendency now to argue that characters can only be played by someone like them.”
Bean went on to say that criticisms surrounding straight actors playing LGBTQ+ roles were “restrictive and counterproductive.”
“We risk getting into a situation where drama is dictated more by which boxes are ticked than the story being told,” he said.
“I often think that, if I did Tracie’s Story today, there’d be an uproar. I have a feeling it would be questioned and wouldn’t even be made, but it’s one of the roles I’m proudest of. It seems such a shame if actors can’t play a range of parts.”
Back in 2012, when asked how he prepared for the role, Bean revealed that he had spent time dressed as a woman, saying: “By walking round in high heels in the kitchen at home … and one night I went out … arm-in-arm with my middle daughter.”
“I wanted to find out what it felt like, whether I’d be able to pull it off and have the bottle to function in that situation”
Drop your thoughts in the comments section, you can check out the trailer for Accused below: