Christopher Biggins says its ‘ridiculous’ to claim only gay actors should play gay characters in film and television.
Earlier this week, critically-acclaimed screenwriter Russell T Davies said every gay character in his upcoming Channel 4 drama It’s A Sin will be played by gay actors, because it is the only way to ensure an authentic portrayal.
Speaking from his home in Hackney, East London, actor Biggins, 72, appeared with journalist Benjamin Butterworth to debate the issue, saying that the point of acting is ‘taking on a character’.
Viewers agreed with Biggens, who has been in a civil partnership with his partner Neil Sinclair since 2006, arguing such divisive statements could cause ‘more harm than good’ in terms of equality, and that great actors can make ‘any role believable’.
It comes after James Cordon came under fire for his portrayal of a gay character in his new movie The Prom. Pictured, Cordon and Meryl Streep in the Netflix film
It comes after James Cordon came under fire for his portrayal of a gay character in his latest movie The Prom, with social media users arguing that the character relies on ‘gay stereotypes’, despite James himself being straight.
Responding to the critics, Biggins said: ‘Ridiculous, acting is acting acting, its taking on a character and becoming that character. I don’t understand why?’
Davies’ series follows the stories of three gay 18-year-olds who arrive in London in 1981, at the beginning of the HIV epidemic, and its star-studded cast includes Olly Alexander, Neil Patrick Harris, and Stephen Fry.
Butterworth agreed there is an ‘authenticity’ an actor who has lived through the HIV epidemic can bring to the series, which enhances their performance.
Christopher Biggins says its ‘ridiculous’ to claim only gay actors should play gay characters in film and television on Good Morning Britain today
Viewers agreed with Biggens, arguing such divisive statements could cause ‘more harm than good’ in terms of equality, and that great actors can make ‘any role believable’
‘There is an authenticity a gay person can bring to that role,’ he said, ‘A rawness and reality, an extra dimension that improves their performance.’
He argued that gay actors are under represented on film and TV: ‘When gay actors are under represented in those roles, the idea that straight people should be playing all the gay characters is wrong.’
Host Piers Morgan argued that films such as 1993 drama Philadelphia – which sees Tom Hanks plays a gay lawyer battling AIDS and keeping his homosexuality hidden from his employers – would have had less of an impact with a lesser known star.
‘I think we’ve moved beyond that,’ argued Butterworth. ‘Of course at that stage having that story of that nature told on the silver screen was of course a radical act.
Tom Hanks in Philadelphia (pictured) played gay lawyer battling AIDS and keeping his homosexuality hidden from his employers
Rami Malek is pictured as Freddie Mercury Bohemian Rhapsody, which Butteworth said ‘skipped over’ the fact the musician had HIV
‘But now [there are] gay actors who have this lived experience and the lived experience of having been through it. Some of those actors would have been around to know what that is like, and I think that’s what makes it so powerful.’
He went on to argue that it was a misstep casting straight actor Rami Malek in Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, because the film ‘skipped over’ the fact the musician died after contracting HIV.
‘That argument seems curious,’ said Piers. ‘It would have been the same movie with a straight or gay actor.’
Biggins added: ‘He was only following what the writers and producers were telling him to do.’
Concluding their arguments, Butterworth said: ‘What I’m saying is, there is a reason gay actors are under represented – which is why they should get these roles.’
Host Piers Morgan (top left) argued that films about homosexuality could benefit from having a well known actor to draw attention to the movie
Concluding their arguments, Butterworth said: ‘What i’m saying is, there is a reason gay actors are under represented – which is why they should get these roles’
Biggins argued: ‘Acting is about taking on a character and becoming a character, it doesn’t matter what sexuality you are. That doesn’t mean anything.’
Viewers quickly took to Twitter to comment on with debate, with several agreeing with Biggins and saying a ‘good actor can take on any role’.
One wrote: ‘I have ENORMOUS respect for RTD, but as a gay actor, I can’t agree with him on this. I think such statements do more harm to the cause of equality than good. Acting is acting and has nothing to do with what goes on in your personal life, gay, straight or other.
Another said: ‘I thought the whole point of acting was to play someone else! If only gay actors play gay characters, then only women should play pantomime Dames! I think great actors can step into any role and make the role believable.’
A third commented: ‘A good actor is a good actor period. The argument is already null and void when it is only a one way street. Acting is adopting a different character.’