While the LGBTQ community has made great strides in recent years, there is still plenty of work to be done. As of today, many Hollywood stars including top draws refuse to play the role of a gay man. They are entitled to have their position, but it’s the reasoning they provided that boggles our minds. Some want to protect an image they have spent years building, while some are simply homophobic. Even in 2017, it takes courage for a straight actor to portray gay characters, as it could be career altering.
Not all fans are going to be necessarily receptive, and actors may even lose some of their following. On the other hand, there are other actors who don’t mind at all and have previously accepted such roles. It can be extremely beneficial as many actors gained critical acclaim for their performances, which in turn made them a hotter commodity for upcoming films. Many actors wanted to raise awareness about social issues that still exist to this day. When taking on that role, it certainly comes with responsibilities.
With this list, we don’t intend to put down the actors who choose to stay away from gay roles; they have the right to do as they wish and we all must respect it. We will simply list what they have previously said in regards to the topic and we will let the readers play judge. Find out the 10 actors who refuse to play gay roles and 10 others willing to accept them.
20. Doesn’t Mind: Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron is not one to shy away from playing gay roles, in fact, she has stated her desire in portraying them. Although she has admitted to experimenting with girls, the actress insists that she’s straight but that doesn’t stop her from switching teams for a character, as seen in her 2003 film Monster.
Theron portrayed a lesbian in the movie, and it certainly didn’t hurt her character as she went on to win an Academy Award for Best Actress, while the movie enjoyed plenty of success at the box office. Since then, she has portrayed a bisexual character in her newest film Atomic Bomb, which was only released 3 months ago. Unlike some names on this list, she’s completely comfortable with lesbian scenes and enjoys filming them.
19. Won’t Do It: Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson has had one of the lengthiest Hollywood careers, featuring in 172 films to this day. He’s involved in several projects every single year, and never goes missing from the big screen. Throughout his career, Jackson has portrayed just about every single role you could probably think of, with one exception.
During an interview with Playboy, he indicated that a gay character is probably the only role he wouldn’t accept as he wouldn’t want to crossdress or kiss another man. While the legendary actor has earned the right to pick and choose, it’s still disappointing to hear that comment from such an influential figure.
18. Doesn’t Mind: Paul Rudd
When it comes to movie roles, Paul Rudd is pretty good at picking his projects. Having been involved in some of the most popular films in the past 20 years, Rudd took on the role of Jennifer Aniston‘s gay roommate in the 1998 film The Object of My Affection. It proved to be a great decision, as the movie became a major hit and has retained its popularity in modern times.
Years later, Anniston and Rudd would reunite once he joined the Friends cast. As for Rudd, he’s likely more than willing to accept the role of a gay man in a future project. The actor appears to be open-minded and understands that it’s part of the business. Throughout his career, he has played some roles that many others would have been scared to take on, but that clearly doesn’t apply to him.
17. Won’t Do It: Justin Bieber
While most of us don’t think of Justin Bieber as an actor, it is his second career these days after featuring in several films in the past couple of years. He has also expressed an interest in continuing to work as an actor, although you shouldn’t expect him to become a Hollywood star anytime soon.
Bieber was set to star in an upcoming film named Uber Girl, but according to the writer Pete O’Neill, he had a change of heart after seeing the full script. Bieber pulled out of the film after refusing to be part of a gay scene where he had to make love to a male backup dancer.
Many fans criticized him once the news leaked, but as always, Beliebers tend to be very forgiving and forgot by the next day. If Bieber refused to star in a movie due to one scene, it’s safe to say you won’t see him portraying a gay character.
16. Doesn’t Mind: Salma Hayek
During her career, Salma Hayek has been involved in several lesbian scenes that we will never forget, but it was her role in Frida which plenty of people will always associate with the actress.
She portrayed bisexual icon Frida Kahlo, who was a famous Mexican painter and remains an influential figure to this day. The movie proved to be a huge success in the box office and greatly benefited Salma Hayek’s career, who would go on to feature in more lesbian scenes.
More recently, she played the role of a lesbian taco in Sausage Party, which may not make sense to those who haven’t seen the film, but it’s as intriguing as it sounds. If offered another gay role, Hayek would have no problem accepting it.
15. Won’t Do It: Luke Grimes
Luke Grimes made headlines for all the wrong reasons when he quit True Blood after only appearing in one season. He was set to be involved in a major storyline in the final season, but Grimes refused to be part of it as he disagreed with the creative direction of his character.
He was set to take on a bisexual role, involving him in a gay scene with one of the stars of the show. But Grimes refused to even kiss him. When things didn’t go his way, he left the show after continuous arguments with the writers.
As one would expect, Grimes was on the receiving end of criticism from all sides, including fans, co-stars, writers, and media. It didn’t exactly affect his career as he would go on to appear in some major films such as Fifty Shades of Grey and The Magnificent Seven.
14. Doesn’t Mind: Dwayne Johnson
For years, The Rock was the hottest thing in professional wrestling before he made his way into Hollywood to become the highest paid actor in the world as of 2016. In 2005, Johnson was still trying to establish himself as a legitimate actor when he took on the role of a gay bodyguard in the film Be Cool.
While several actors might have stayed away from taking on such a role, especially when you consider that he was a punchline throughout the movie, Johnson had no problem portraying the character, and it did wonders for him as he displayed a new range in his skillset.
In Johnson’s newest box office hit, he shared an underwater kiss with co-star Zac Efron that surely got plenty of fans to watch Baywatch. It’s safe to say The Rock would open to playing a gay character once again.
13. Won’t Do It: Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg has played some edgy roles in his career, mainly early on when he was establishing himself in Hollywood. Since then, he has taken on mostly safe roles that aren’t challenging at all. In 2005, he was offered to star in one that would’ve required him to actually display a new side, but he turned down a role in Brokeback Mountain, which would go on to make $178.1 million in the box office.
According to Wahlberg, he was creeped out by the script due to the aggressive content. It’s been reported that he simply didn’t want to play a gay role and was uncomfortable being in some of the explicit scenes. It really shouldn’t surprise anyone when you consider his homophobic comments from his younger days when he was running around and bullying everyone.
12. Doesn’t Mind: Jada Pinkett Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith‘s inclusion on this list shouldn’t surprise anyone who is familiar with her history. In 2008, she took on the role of a lesbian author in The Women, which was a commercial hit in the box office but not as well received by the critics. In an interview that followed the movie, Jada indicated her excitement upon seeing the script and cast, she didn’t hesitate for a moment and wanted to be apart of the film. Despite the movie having a low rating of 13% on Rotten Tomatoes, Jada was still proud of her involvement.
A few years earlier, Jada had shared a kiss with Monica Bellucci in Enter The Matrix and seeing as how she went on to take a lesbian role, it’s safe to assume that she would be open to doing so again in the future.
11. Won’t Do It: Will Smith
Jada’s husband also finds his way on this list, but he falls on the other side of the spectrum. Will Smith‘s Fresh Prince Of Bel Air was a major hit for years, but it was his role in Six Degrees that really made him a Hollywood star. In the film, Will Smith played the role of a gay con man but it’s well-known that he rejected a kissing scene, which made some headlines. Smith defended his decision by saying that it wasn’t something his fans would have wanted to see from him.
Rumors have also suggested that Denzel Washington was involved in the decision, as he got in Will Smith’s head and urged him to not go for a gay scene. After all these years, Will is unlikely to take on another gay role considering that he would be criticized much more for refusing to kiss another man.
10. Doesn’t Mind: Sean Penn
Sean Penn has always shown his support for gay rights and never shied away to speak his mind about same-sex marriage, but his role in one of the most critically acclaimed movies from the past 10 years has made him an even more important figure.
Based on Harvey Milk, Sean Penn’s portrayal of the gay icon in the 2008 film Milk earned him plenty of praise from fans and the media. The movie was also received with positive reviews from the LGBT community and has become one of the most important films in recent times.
Penn’s impressive performance earned him many awards and it’s only right since he brilliantly took on a challenging role that not many other actors would have been able to successfully pull off. It’s safe to say that Penn wouldn’t mind portraying another gay role, but it’s probably a tougher task to find a follow-up that would be as powerful as Milk.
9. Won’t Do It: Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart has been on a roll in the past few years, starring in many hit films. Although none of his movies are critically acclaimed by any means, he does draw fans to the theatre and has a large following. Following the latest scandal where he was exposed for cheating on his spouse, his popularity may have taken a hit, but that’s not the first time he was involved in controversy.
Hart is one of the few actors who flat out announced their refusal to portray a gay character and his reasoning is not very convincing. After rejecting to be apart of Tropic Thunder due to the role being of a gay man, Hart hasn’t changed his stance after all those years.
During an interview with The Breakfast Club, he claimed that he wouldn’t play a gay role since he can’t see himself being fully committed due to his own personal insecurities. It sounds like a weak excuse, if you ask me.
8. Doesn’t Mind: Jennifer Lopez
Despite being straight, Jennifer Lopez has shown that she isn’t afraid of being in a same-sex relationship on screen. Although she had several intimate on-screen moments with women, her most famous lesbian role came in the 2003 film Gigli. It’s probably the one film that she would like to forget as it became a massive box office flop, grossing only $7.3 million on an enormous $75.6 million budget. With a rating of 6 % on Rotten Tomatoes, the critics weren’t kind to the movie either, it’s one of the biggest flops in Hollywood.
J-Lo portraying a lesbian was definitely not the reason behind the failure of the film, it’s probably the only thing worth checking out for as the plot makes absolutely no sense. She would probably want to make up for it in a new film if given the chance. Lopez has always been outspoken in supporting the LGBTQ community and even has a gay aunt.
7. Won’t Do It: Brendan Fehr
You probably know Brendan Fehr for his roles in Roswell and CSI: Miami, but the straight actor had to switch teams for his current role on The Night Shift. He ended up accepting the role and didn’t quit — like Luke Grimes did — but he did admit to being uncomfortable in the role, mainly the intimate scenes.
Some of his remarks didn’t go over well with the media, as he admitted his reluctance to taking on the role since he believed it would hurt his career in some ways. Fehr didn’t seem to enjoy the experience and has made similar comments in several interviews, so if you enjoyed his run as a gay character, you probably should continue doing so since it seems highly unlikely that Fehr would accept such role again.
6. Doesn’t Mind: Al Pacino
Al Pacino is considered to be one of the greatest actors of all time and there is a good reason for that. With so many classic films to his name, it’s easy to see why he is so highly regarded by fans and critics alike. He has played a gay character twice during his lengthy career, the first coming in 1975 with a memorable performance in Dog Day Afternoon.
Five years later, he played another gay role in the movie Cruising, although it wasn’t as well received. For years, there’s been a fear that straight actors who portray a gay character may hurt their career but Al Pacino is living proof that it’s simply a myth.
Not only is Al Pacino known for one of the best LGBT-related film, but he has also publicly shown his support to the community. If he decides to go for a third time, we wouldn’t be surprised by his decision.
5. Won’t Do It: Natalie Cassidy
Natalie Cassidy is best known for being apart of the cast of EastEnders, an extremely popular British Soap Opera that’s been airing since 1985. That’s not a typo, the show still airs to this day and remains as popular as ever.
She has also made appearances on several other shows but it remains her most famous role. A few years ago, she briefly left the show after refusing to take part in a lesbian storyline. That didn’t last very long as she went back to the show as she probably realized she was about to miss out on checks for 20 more seasons.
4. Doesn’t Mind: Zooey Deschanel
In the past 10 years, Zooey Deschanel has solidified her status as one of Hollywood’s top actresses after being part of some critically acclaimed films, as well as box office hits. From her role in 500 Days of Summer to Yes Man, she has featured in some of Hollywood’s most popular romances in modern times.
She also took on a lesbian role in Our Idiot Brother when she paired up with Rashida Jones to form a memorable couple. Despite a low budget, the movie managed to draw well and if we were to take a wild guess, we would go with the pair being united.
Both ladies spoke on how much they enjoyed playing their part, their romantic scenes and the importance of portraying gay characters as straight actresses. They didn’t rule out doing so again in the future, so you might see Zooey Deschanel in another lesbian role – perhaps a reunion with Rashida.
3. Won’t Do It: Mike Epps
Best known for his appearances in the Friday series and for his stand up comedy, Mike Epps has featured in plenty of movies since his on-screen debut in 1997. You should never expect him to take on a slightly different role than he has, Epps has made it clear that he would reject a gay character.
Many of his comments have also gotten him in trouble with the LGBT community after being accused of using homophobic slurs towards a cameraman in 2009. A few years later, he engaged in a feud with Kevin Hart where he randomly accused him of being gay and made a bunch of immature jokes.
This past December, Mike Epps found himself in hot water once again after refusing to take a photo with a fan, who claimed that his request was rejected because he’s gay. Although the actor has denied being homophobic, it’s hard to believe him after years of making such comments.
2. Doesn’t Mind: Nia Long
Nia Long has played several types of roles during her career, featuring in some highly successful movies since she broke into the scene. While some actresses may shy away from playing a lesbian, she didn’t mind doing so, which is always great to see from Hollywood stars who are comfortable enough to do it.
In 2000, she portrayed a lesbian feminist in If These Walls Could Talk 2 and would go for it a second time this past year when she joined Dear White People as a gay character. She has also been praised by the LGBT community for her continuous support.
You can expect to see Nia Long reprise a gay role in future films as she has expressed her willingness to act the part, despite being married to former NBA player Ime Udoka. Nia Long is a professional and won’t make any excuses as some of the listed names.
1. Won’t Do It: Chuck Norris
He is one of the most successful actors of the past few decades, but it probably won’t surprise many readers to see him on this list. Chuck Norris rarely appears in films these days, with his last one coming in 2012 when he was part of The Expendables 2 cast. For that reason, as well as some past homophobic comments, one would be safe to assume that the actor will never take on a gay character.
It used to be cool to like Chuck Norris, but that has faded away over the years due to many of his controversial opinions, including his views on same-sex marriage. In all fairness, it’s not like anybody would lose sleep if they were never to witness him playing a gay character, his prime years are way behind him and he’s no longer the interesting figure that he used to be for so many years.
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