Jim Parsons: All Roles Should Be Available to All Actors

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday January 8, 2021

Jim Parsons
Jim Parsons  (Source:Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Jim Parsons believes that all roles should be available to all actors equally, ET Canada reports.

Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, the "Big Bang Theory" star was asked about the debate in Hollywood over whether LGBTQ roles should be performed only by LGBTQ people:

"There's definitely this spectrum: I think the fight, as it were, is not about having only gay people play the gay parts but to ensure that all parts are open to all actors. It's important that gay characters are portrayed as well-rounded and completely human individuals.

"And there are plenty of straight actors who have played gay characters brilliantly. I think 'Brokeback Mountain' is one of the most touching gay movies and love stories I have ever seen, and those two straight actors [Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal] were the best choices for those roles."

Parsons' view perhaps aligns more closely with the presumed-to-be-straight Viggo Mortensen. The "Lord of the Rings" star was recently questioned over why he cast himself to play the gay character of John Peterson in "Falling," a film he also wrote and directed. Mortensen pushed back in an interview with the London Times: "And how do you know what my life is? You're assuming that I'm completely straight."

Actress Kristen Stewart, while promoting her recent rom-com "Happiest Season," expressed similar sentiments, veering toward ambivalence, saying "I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who's lived that experience. Having said that, it's a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I'm going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law."

Italian director Luca Guadagnino, who helmed the 2017 sleeper hit "Call Me By Your Name," said that when casting, "If I have to cast what people think is the real thing for a role, I wouldn't be able to cast... there is not a gay identity. One person who is gay is completely different to another person who is gay... the beauty of acting is the possibility of the creation and embodiment of new selves through the art of acting."

However, Jonny Bailey — the out heartthrob actor starring as Anthony Bridgerton, a straight character, in Netflix's recent hit series "Bridgerton" — reiterates many of the same talking points but ultimately believes that it would be "brilliant to see gay men" playing roles that mirror their own experience.

By contrast, after the ensuing backlash in the wake of accepting transgender roles, both Scarlett Johansson and Halle Berry ultimately declined and issued apologies. Berry said on Twitter, "As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories." Johansson admitted that she initially handled the backlash poorly, saying "Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I've learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues."

Elsewhere in the Los Angeles Times piece, Parsons discusses his recent roles in Ryan Murphy's "Hollywood" and the revival of "The Boys in the Band," and in particular the historical significance of the latter.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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