12 Actors Who Have A Tough Time Playing Gay Roles (And 3 Okay With It)

Recent mainstream movies like Far From Heaven, Brokeback Mountain and Milk have all been critically acclaimed for taking on a divisive subject. All three of these movies and more have gay characters in lead roles. It’s interesting to note that none of the stars in these films are gay. It’s also interesting to note that, even to this day, gay actors don’t play straight characters because it’s “not believable.”

For decades, actors have taken on method acting to fully immerse themselves in their characters. Curiously enough, straight actors who have to make whoopie with other straight actors can’t just method act. There are so many A-listers who refuse to play gay. Liam Neeson’s smooch with a male character was, for him, the hardest thing he had to do. Really? Kevin Hart claims he will never take on a role playing a gay character. True to his world, he turned down a role in Tropic Thunder because his character was gay. Some are just grossed out if they have to swap spit with a man in a movie. Other straight men playing gay worry that their fans will leave them and equate them with being feminine, not masculine.

Meanwhile, some actors, even A-listers, want to protect the image they have spent years cultivating, as if one single film in which they play gay will immediately incinerate the hard work they have done for creating a macho persona. Finally, there are straight actors who are just homophobes and can’t even canoodle with another man without making a fuss about it. So we’ve put together this list of 15 actors who have a tough time playing gay roles, and why.

15 Problem: Samuel L. Jackson Fears Cross-Dressing If He Had To Play A Gay Character

Samuel L. Jackson is one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors. Films like The Hateful Eight and Django Unchained come to mind, but playing the role of Fury in 11 movies for the Marvel Cinematic Universe is just hands-down awesome. His career has spanned over 170 movies and he has portrayed every single role that you could think of. It’s to our surprise, then, that one thing the actor will not do is play a gay role. Jackson told Playboy that any role that [requires] him to cross-dress and kiss a male co-star would never happen. “Probably dress up as a woman and kiss another guy. I don't think people want to see me do that.” That’s his excuse. We’re curious why Jackson conflates crossdressing with being gay. Is that a gay thing, something they do while shopping at The Dollar Tree?

14 Problem: His Beliebers Will Be Confused About Which Team He's On

Justin Bieber is one of those artists who try to break into acting. While he has made a few films in the past years, all of them have been entirely forgettable. Bieber was set to play the lead, a young pop star, in Uber Girl, but soon declined the role after reading the entire script. There were gay scenes in the movie and Bieber would’ve had to get intimate with a male backup dancer. Bieber insisted that those scenes were deleted from the final script. When the producers declined, Bieber pulled out. The reason? He didn’t want his fans to be confused about his sexuality. Oh, the Biebs! We don't hold that against you. You're still growing up. After all, when visiting the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam, you wrote on a guestbook that a Holocaust victim "would have been a Belieber," without the slightest trace of irony. Oh, Biebs, you're hysterical! In this light, do we even want to see Bieber playing puppets?

13 Problem: Only If His Character Was Rejecting The Gay Advances

Luke Grimes is not yet a household name, but he did get major publicity for his role in the True Blood series. The problem was, his character was going to reveal himself as bisexual, which would involve him pulling into osculation station with another guy. Grimes refused to be part of it because he disagreed with the creative direction of his character. So when Grimes found out that his character would become romantically involved with another character, Lafayette, he countered that he would be able to play the role if Lafayette were attracted to him, but not if the attraction was mutual. He also did not want to do any same-sex basket-making. The writers were unwilling to change the scripts on his behalf and Grimes made headlines for quitting the show after just one season.

12 Problem: Pattinson Would Rather Give Up Acting Before Portraying A Gay Man

It doesn’t make sense to us when a straight character plays a gay character and objects to certain scenes that involve doing the deed with another character or even just swapping spit with him. You are an actor, you play a role, and that’s it. It’s both unprofessional and homophobic to not want to partake in a scene because you are uncomfortable doing it. Just do it. Robert Pattinson, the star of the Twilight Series, did just that. In 2009, he portrayed Salvador Dali in Little Ashes opposite Javier Beltran, who played the legendary poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Much to his dismay, the role involved a graphic kiss. Pattinson considered giving up acting because of his role, and what he had to do. Can you believe that? Do you want to give up your career because of one scene? What year is this? Is it so terribly hard to play a homosexual?

11 Problem: Do We Even Have To Say It, Mark Wahlberg?


Mark Wahlberg is known for playing many sorts of his roles, but he’s also famous for gay bashing and making gay people unnerved. In 2005, Wahlberg was offered to play one of the leads in Brokeback Mountain, but he turned down the role because he didn’t want to play for the other side. The script involved very graphic content, and he was uncomfortable being in some of the explicit scenes. This is no surprise, as Wahlberg is known for his homophobic comments early on in his career as an underwear model for Calvin Klein. We’re surprised and a little pissed off that Wahlberg still lands big parts in big movies without any backlash. But we all can do our part, which is to never go to a film if Mark Wahlberg is in it.

10 Problem: My Fans Would Never Want Me To Play For The Other Team

Will Smith is an A-list star with no blemishes in his career until you really look back on his oeuvre and see that even Will 'Big Star' Smith has some reservations while acting. We’re talking about Six Degrees of Separation, which turned him into a bonafide Hollywood star all the way back in 1993. His role was that of a gay con artist. While he had no grievances playing a scene with another man in the buff, he did want a script re-write that removed him from tongue-wrestling with another man. And why was that? Smith defended his decision by saying that it wasn’t something his fans would have wanted to see from him. Which fans? The straight ones? The gay ones? Did he take a poll? Did he go on Facebook and ask his followers whether they were gay or straight and then deleted from his account those who were gay? Does he even want a gay following? The uproar is that Denzel Washington was involved in-part in the decision, urging Smith to not do the gay scene out of a fear that Smith would ruin his masculine image. Well, he did it and he’s still an A-lister.

9 Problem: Smooching With Another Man Is Not That Fun

James Franco has appeared in several movies where he had to suck face with other men. Franco, who actively supports the LGBT community, doesn’t care if he looks effeminate while taking on a gay portrayal, very much unlike Will Smith, who was so adamant about deleting his same-sex smooching scene because his fans may no longer see him as masculine. What does that even mean?! Franco’s most prominent role as a gay character was in Milk, in 2008, in which he played Harvey Milk’s gay lover, who was played by Sean Penn. Now here’s what confuses us. He has a huge gay following, but Franco seems like all the rest because he didn’t want to pecker a same-sex actor. Franco even said that pecker with Penn that it was extremely uncomfortable and “not that fun.” To minimize bad publicity, Franco added that Penn had grown a beard and that his hair kept getting into his mouth.

8 Problem: Kevin Hart Says He'll Never Play A Gay Character

Kevin Hart is a stand-up comedian, a hit actor, a musician, and, most of all, a homophobe. Didn’t see the last one coming, did you? Well, it’s true. He will play a variety of characters but he will never play a gay part. In fact, he turned down a role in Tropic Thunder because his character was gay. Ah, actors. Just suck it up! You are getting paid! Hart wants to come off as a real guy, but it backfired because he has been accused of being homophobic. Hart tells a different story. He says he has insecurities if he has to play a gay man. Isn’t that what acting is all about? To try new roles? To remove yourself from inhibitions? Hart explained why he couldn’t play gay, which is that 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.” Yeah, right.

7 Okay With It: If It's In The Script,  Jake Gyllenhaal Will Do It

Now here’s something refreshing. Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t mind playing gay roles, and with all that it entails. In Brokeback Mountain, Gyllenhaal played a gay cowboy in the 1960s. The movie was both a critical and commercial success, a rarity in Hollywood as the two leads (Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger) play lovers. Brokeback set a record, as it was one of the first mainstream movies to depict gay lives truthfully. It’s no surprise then, that, other actors passed on the role. Gyllenhaal knew exactly what would be required when he took the role. There’s same-sex snogging, desperate longings, a feverish whoopie scene and much more. Gyllenhaal said that he had some reservations about his character, but before you stop reading this, he’s unlike the other actors on the list who can’t grin and bear it. Instead, he acted like a true professional and did what he had to do.

6 Problem: Colin Farrell Doesn't Shy Away From Gay Roles, But Won't Kiss Another Man

5 Okay With It: This Actor Was Surprised To Find Out That His Character Was Gay

Ray Liotta doesn’t get much credit for his impressive body of work. His most indelible movie was his portrayal of Henry Hill in the movie Goodfellas, and he also starred in movies like Cop Land and Field of Dreams. He currently stars in a successful TV crime drama called Shades of Blue (above, with Jennifer Lopez) where Liotta is a corrupt cop who is revealed to be gay in a scene where he passionately kisses actor Michael Esper. Liotta admitted that he was in shock that the macho man he played was gay, and had no idea about that until he read the script just before the scene was about to be filmed. But he filmed the scene anyway. Anyone could get shocked. We mean, it’s obvious that going to first base on the screen can be hard, and because all those actors here find it hard, well, it must be indeed hard.

4 Okay With It: Locking Lips Is No Big Deal For Sean Penn

Sean Penn is very much attuned to the LGBT community and publicly supports gay marriage. Penn’s portrayal of the politician and gay rights activist Harvey Mill in the award-winning 2008 bio pic Milk received plenty of praise and received glowing reviews from the LGBT community. As such, it has become one of the most iconic and important films in recent times that feature a gay plot, like Brokeback Mountain. In the movie, Penn’s character had to be intimate with, and comfortable with, another man. He was full-on Milk when he made no fuss to kiss James Franco. Gossipmongers were pretty pleased in finding out that, after Penn kissed Franco, he apparently sent a text to his ex-wife, Madonna, to tell her that he had popped his cherry kissing a guy. Why couldn’t other straight actors playing gay be as nonchalant? It’s just tired hearing about a straight actor saying that a small, simple thing like locking lips is “uncomfortable” and “insecure.” Get over it, it’s just a part.

3 Problem: Surrounding Yourself With Gay People Obviously Means You Are Not Homophobic

Mike Epps is famous for his appearances in the Friday series and for his stand-up comedy. He’s also known for allegedly being homophobic. Epps told the media that he would never play a gay character. He gave no reason, but the fact that he used homophobic slurs toward a cameraman in 2009 suggests that he might not like gay people. But nothing says homophobic more than when a fan of his show filmed himself confronting Epps of why he refused to take a picture of him because the man was gay. Epps fought back and posted a message denying him of being homophobic. His excuse? Well, this is new. He said he can’t hate gay people because "I work in a biz full of gay people." So if you are surrounded by gay people means you can’t be a hater? Hmm.

2 Problem: This Star Wants To Preserve The Image of His Character, So Don't Make Him Gay

In the 2016 movie Star Trek Beyond, which is the latest in the Star Trek franchise, John Cho played Hikaru Sulu. We learn that Sulu identifies as gay and has a husband back home to prove it. He and his husband have a daughter, and the writers wanted to show Sulu giving his husband a “welcome home” swap in the face to reveal, in shorthand, that they are intimate and are playing hockey with each other. Unlike other actors listed here, it was not the affectionate swap that was the issue. Cho didn’t mind if he had to do it, but he did display his reservations to the director and the writers because he was worried that George Takei, who played the original Sulu in the Star Trek series, would not be pleased about it. Much more realistic is Cho’s other reservation, which is that the image will reinforce the stereotype that Asian Americans are effeminate. In the end, Cho did the scene, but all that hoopla was to no avail because the scene did not make it in the final cut of the movie.

1 Problem: This Actor Can Punch A Guy And Get Hurt, But Kissing Another Man Is Harder

Liam Neeson impressed Hollywood when he starred in the title role of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning film Schindler's List. But it wasn’t until 2008 that Neeson became a bonafide action star with several back-to-back films that made tons of money and which cemented his career as the go-to guy if you need a character who can fight some other guy and kill him with his bare hands. It started with Taken, Non-Stop and Run All Night. In 2012 Neeson reprised his role in Taken 2, and then once again in 2015 when he starred in Taken 3. Long before being an action star, Neeson played Alfred Kinsey in the 2004 movie Kinsey. The movie called for him to kiss co-star Peter Sarsgaard, and he admitted that it was one of the hardest things he ever had to do. Really? Not even doing your own stunts in the Taken series? Why is it so hard to do?

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