Kate Winslet has spoken about Hollywood actors feeling forced to hide their sexuality in order to maintain their careers.
Speaking to The Sunday Times‘ Culture magazine, Winslet said she knew of “at least four actors absolutely hiding their sexuality.”
Winslet called it “painful,” because the actors “fear being found out” and potentially having it impact their careers.
“I cannot tell you the number of young actors I know — some well known, some starting out — who are terrified their sexuality will be revealed and that it will stand in the way of their being cast in straight roles,” the Ammonite star said.
“A well-known actor has just got an American agent and the agent said, ‘I understand you are bisexual. I wouldn’t publicize that’. I can think of at least four actors absolutely hiding their sexuality.”
She argued that the solution was to cast more gay people in straight roles in order to remove the stigma and allow more gay and bisexual actors to come out publicly.
“Hollywood has to drop that dated crap of, ‘Can he play straight because, apparently, he’s gay?'” she said. “That should be almost illegal…. And it can’t just be distilled to the question about gay actors playing gay parts. Because actors, in some cases, are choosing not to come out for personal reasons.”
Winslet said she didn’t want to “browbeat or take on Hollywood,” but that the industry needed to find a way to be “more open. For there to be less judgment, discrimination and homophobia.”
Last year, Winslet starred in Francis Lee’s drama Ammonite, about British paleontologist Mary Anning. In the film, Anning meets and falls in love with another woman, a creative decision that received pushback from some due to a lack of evidence of Anning being a lesbian.
Lee responded to that criticism in an interview with Metro Weekly, noting that “there’s no evidence whatsoever that Mary Anning had a relationship with a man.”
“But there is evidence that she had friendships — good friendships — with women,” he continued. “Including Charlotte Murchison, played by Saoirse Ronan, and Elizabeth Philpot, played by Fiona Shaw.”
Lee said he wanted to give Anning “a relationship that felt worthy of her, respectful, equal. And in this patriarchal society, where men had overlooked her, reappropriated her work, it didn’t feel right to give her a relationship with a man.”
Speaking to the Times, Winslet also responded to potential criticism that she had taken an LGBTQ role from an LGBTQ actor.
“We could have had a conversation about how I feel about playing a lesbian and possibly taking that role from somebody,” she said. “But I’m done with not being honest about what my real opinions are, and I know the part was never offered to anybody else. In taking this part I had an opportunity to bring an LGBTQ story into living rooms.”
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