10 Straight Actors Whose Gay Roles We Actually Loved
The debate over whether or not straight actors should play gay roles isn’t going to die down any time soon. While we definitely prefer that most gay roles go to gay actors, and we love the authenticity they bring to the roles and the projects they’re in, we can’t help but have a special soft spot for a few straight actors.
Some stars, like Brendan Fraser, are great people and great at playing gay, but aren't really known for it. Others, like Jared Leto, should probably never play a member of the LGBTQ+ community ever again.
These actors seem to be locked in on something about the queer experience, and when they play it, we can’t help but watch and love it. We want a future where every talented queer actor can get whatever roles they want and where queer actors finally win awards for playing queer roles, but until then, these ten actors show that not every straight actor should be banned from playing gay on screen.
Blanchett won her first Oscar for playing legendary queer actress Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator. She was later nominated for playing a version of Bob Dylan named “Jude Quinn” in the movie I’m Not There, and then again for playing the seductive older woman Carol Aird in Carol. This year she was nominated again for another Oscar for playing a lesbian, this time a predatory conductor named Lydia Tár in Tár.
Theron won an Oscar for playing queer serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, and then played gay again the next year in 2004’s Head in the Clouds. But we really loved her as a bisexual action star in Atomic Blonde, and as a gay icon in roles like Furiousa in Mad Max: Fury Road, and Andy in The Old Guard.
Firth was nominated for an Oscar and won the BAFTA for his role as a gay British professor living in 1960’s California in the film A Single Man. He’s also played gay opposite Stanley Tucci in Supernova, and plays Harry Bright, one of Sophia’s potential fathers (and a gay man) in the Mamma Mia! movies.
We loved when McGregor played a gay inmate Phillip Morris in the dark comedy I Love You Phillip Morris, and again when he played real-life legendary fashion designer Halston in the Netflix miniseries Halston. His supervillain Black Mask in Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) was also delightfully campy and definitely had something queer going on with his henchman Victor Zsasz.
Gael García Bernal
García Bernal starred with Diego Luna in Y tu mamá también in 2001 as a pair of best friends who have a threesome with an older woman. He then played multiple gay and trans roles in the 2004 film Bad Education. This year, he returns to playing gay in Cassandro, a film about the legendary gay lucha libre wrestler.
Gyllenhaal broke all of our hearts as a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain and then played an eccentric queer art critic in Velvet Buzzsaw. He’s also producing and starring in an upcoming film adaptation of the musical Fun Home as Alison Bechdel’s gay dad.
Early in her career, Lyonne played the iconic role of the cheerleader in the seminal lesbian movie But I’m a Cheerleader, and since then, she’s never stopped playing gay. After stops in movies like Sleeping With Other People, American Reunion, Intervention, and Addicted to Fresno, Lyonne played a lady-killing lesbian inmate in the Netflix show Orange Is the New Black.
Weisz starred opposite Rachel McAdams in the sexy Jewish romantic drama film Disobedience and then was nominated for an Oscar for playing Sarah Churchill in The Favourite. Next up, she plays twin lesbian doctors in the Amazon Prime Video series Dead Ringers.
Tucci has been playing gay all his career. From smaller movies like The Daytrippers and Little Chaos, to his iconic gay roles in The Devil Wears Prada, Burlesque, and Supernova (opposite fellow straight-actor-we-love Colin Firth), he always does the gay community right.
Chalamet hasn’t had as many gay roles as the rest of the people on this list (he’s only 27, after all), but he made quite the impression on the queer community with his touching and realistic performance as a lovestruck teen in Luca Guadagnino’s classic coming-of-age romance Call Me by Your Name.