Tom Hanks says he couldn’t play gay role today ‘and rightly so’

The actor has said that neither Philadelphia nor Forrest Gump, for which he won Oscars in the 90s, would be made in a ‘modern realm of authenticity’

Tom Hanks has said that as a straight man he could not now make Philadelphia, in which he played a gay man who is dying of Aids.

Speaking to the New York Times magazine to promote the new Elvis Presley biopic, Hanks called both Philadelphia – for which he won an Oscar in 1993 – and Forrest Gump – for which he repeated the trick a year later – as “timely movies, at the time, that you might not be able to make now”.

“Let’s address ‘Could a straight man do what I did in Philadelphia now?’” said Hanks. “No, and rightly so. The whole point of Philadelphia was don’t be afraid. One of the reasons people weren’t afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man. We’re beyond that now, and I don’t think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy.”

Hanks continued: “It’s not a crime, it’s not boohoo, that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity. Do I sound like I’m preaching? I don’t mean to.”

However, Hanks’s statement was met with scepticism online, with many saying that Bradley Cooper is currently shooting a biopic of Leonard Bernstein, which has already attracted Oscar buzz, and Ewan McGregor recently won an Emmy for playing Halston.

Meanwhile, Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer enjoyed substantial acclaim for their roles in Call Me By Your Name, as did Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan for period romance Ammonite.

However, the actor Eddie Redmayne expressed regret at accepting the role of a trans woman in Tom Hooper’s 2015 film A Danish Girl, describing his participation as “a mistake” and the part as one he “wouldn’t take on now”.

In 2021, Russell T Davies asserted that only gay actors should play gay roles – a credo adhered to when casting hit drama It’s a Sin. This September sees the release of Bros, an LGBTQ+ romcom starring Billy Eichner in which all the cast members – including those playing heterosexual roles – identify as queer.


Catherine Shoard

The GuardianTramp

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