actor

Cate Blanchett says she'll "fight to the death for the right to suspend disbelief and play roles beyond my experience."
Image: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Hollywood has a long history of straight actors playing LGBTQ roles, and it’s something Cate Blanchett has defended.

The Australian actress played a lesbian woman in 2015 film Carol, and according to the Hollywood Reporter, she had never been asked about her sexuality until she played an LGBTQ character. 

Blanchett disagrees with the notion that an actor should have lived the experience of the character they play, saying that it defies the whole point of acting.

“It also speaks to something that I’m quite passionate about in storytelling generally, but in film specifically, is that film can be quite a literal medium,” she said at the Rome Film Festival.

“And I will fight to the death for the right to suspend disbelief and play roles beyond my experience. I think reality television and all that that entails had an extraordinary impact, a profound impact on the way we view the creation of character.

“I think it provides a lot of opportunity, but the downside of it is that we now, particularly in America, I think, we expect and only expect people to make a profound connection to a character when it’s close to their experience.”

Blanchett’s views are not shared by all actors, however. Sir Ian McKellen has been critical of straight actors taking on LGBTQ roles, noting that no openly gay man has won an Oscar. 

Tom Hanks won one for 1993’s Philadelphia, while Sean Penn did so for Milk. In total, 52 straight actors who played LGBTQ characters have been nominated for the award. 

In July, Scarlett Johansson dropped out of playing a trans man following heavy criticism after she accepted the role.

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