Films Where Gay Actors Play Gay Characters
March 14, 2010 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Which gay characters in mainstream films have been played by gay actors?

I watch a lot of movies and it seems somewhat rare that gay actors play gay characters. The only example I can think of is Rupert Everett playing George in My Best Friend's Wedding. What mainstream movies have gay characters played by gay actors?
posted by mtphoto to Society & Culture (28 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Simon Callow in Four Weddings and Funeral.
posted by darkstar at 10:34 AM on March 14, 2010

Does Jeffrey count as mainstream? Bryan Batt plays a gay man in that.

Oh, and Nathan Lane in The Birdcage, of course.
posted by kalimac at 10:36 AM on March 14, 2010

And while I'd love to forget this performance: Harvey Fierstein in Bird on a Wire.
posted by darkstar at 10:37 AM on March 14, 2010

Harvey Firestein in Mrs. Doubfire, as well.

Sean Hayes, from Will and Grace who played Jack, just came out recently.
posted by piratebowling at 10:39 AM on March 14, 2010

Oops, missed the "movies" part. Still, Sean Hayes also played a pretty queen-y character in Pieces of April as well.
posted by piratebowling at 10:40 AM on March 14, 2010

Ian McKellen in Gods and Monsters.

Stephen Fry in V for Vendetta.
posted by darkstar at 10:40 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Stephen Fry in Wilde.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:43 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nigel Hawthorne in The Object of My Affection.
posted by darkstar at 10:43 AM on March 14, 2010

Stephen Fry in Peter's Friends (come on, darkstar, don't drop the ball).
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:55 AM on March 14, 2010

It's a stretch, but Jack Cassidy (bisexual) played the cringe-inducing character Miles Mellough in The Eiger Sanction.
posted by darkstar at 10:57 AM on March 14, 2010

Stephen Fry in St. Trinian's.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:59 AM on March 14, 2010

Derek Jacobi in Love is the Devil
posted by cazoo at 11:03 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Did you want lesbians, too? Probably the most historically interesting male actor is British heartthrob Dirk Bogarde (who never publicly acknowledged his own gayness) playing the closeted blackmail target in the 1962 film Victim - a pretty bold move back then - and again a few years later in the title role of The Servant. These two lists might be useful in finding more.
posted by mediareport at 11:05 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Victim starring Dirk Bogarde. Excellent 1961 movie that helped in the push towards the decriminalization of homosexuality in Britain in 1967.
posted by merocet at 11:10 AM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Most of the cast of Shortbus.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 11:13 AM on March 14, 2010

It's interesting to see the acting range from the serious characters, Stephen Fry in V for Vendetta, to the over-top-flamboyant, Nathan Lane in The Birdcage. I never knew that either of them are gay.
posted by mtphoto at 11:19 AM on March 14, 2010

Harvey Fierstein wrote and starred in the excellent Torch Song trilogy.
posted by dirm at 11:51 AM on March 14, 2010

Gay John Barrowman plays bi Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and Torchwood. Ironically, he was rejected for the roll of Will on Will and Grace (in favor of a straight actor) for seeming "too straight."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:05 PM on March 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

It used to be that independent queer film relied heavily on queer actors, but things have changed a lot in just the last five to ten years in that respect.

That said, Hollywood is still quite closeted, out gay actors don't necessarily want to play gay characters for fear of reinforcing typecasting, and it's still considered so brave for a straight actor (especially male) to "risk" playing a gay character. (ZOMG what will your fans think if they see you kiss a man on camera!)

So, my answer to your question would be "the majority of films I saw at queer film festivals," but that's not a very helpful answer. That said, I believe both of the leads in "The Wedding Banquet" are gay, as is most (all?) of the cast of "Go Fish," to name a couple of more famous queer examples.
posted by desuetude at 12:07 PM on March 14, 2010

Rupert Everett also played Guy Bennett in 'Another Country.'

Sean Hayes as Billy Collier in 'Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss.' (not really mainstream, though).

An article in this week's The Independent Sunday: Gay Actors: An Open and Shut Closet -- "Many actors have recently and successfully played gay characters. So why, asks James Mottram, are there so few openly gay stars?"
posted by ericb at 1:00 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Andy Dick (bi) plays gay in Old School.
posted by darkstar at 1:18 PM on March 14, 2010

Alan Cumming (bi) in Eyes Wide Shut.
posted by darkstar at 1:35 PM on March 14, 2010

Ah, yes! Udo Kier in My Own Private Idaho.
posted by darkstar at 2:17 PM on March 14, 2010

Jane Lynch in Best in Show.
posted by joechip at 2:33 PM on March 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Kenneth Nelson, Peter White, Leonard Frey, Cliff Gorman, Frederick Combs, Keith Prentice, Robert La Tourneaux.

Apart from brief write-ups in Wikipedia, may of these actors are scarcely remembered today. But they were gay men acting in the landmark gay film "The Boys in the Band" (1970). Some were familiar faces on the New York stage, or recognizable from Broadway musicals.

As a footnote, many of these men died at crushingly young ages--early victims of the AIDS epidemic.
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:42 PM on March 14, 2010

Ian McKellen in And the Band Played On.
posted by casualinference at 3:50 PM on March 14, 2010

While I really don't advise watching it: Rupert Everett in "The Next Best Thing". (Awful Madonna film).

Wikipedia's Gay Actors category may come in handy. And Lesbian Actresses, if you're interested in women too.
posted by badmoonrising at 5:43 PM on March 14, 2010

And by "interested in women" I of course mean "interested in finding lesbian actresses as well as gay actors". I worded that one rather poorly, although it did give me a giggle on rereading...
posted by badmoonrising at 5:53 PM on March 14, 2010

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