Cate Blanchett defends straight actors playing gay on screen


Actress Cate Blanchett has defended straight actors playing gay characters.

Blanchett on Friday participated in a Close Encounter discussion at the Rome Film Festival with its artistic director Antonio Monda when she commented on how Hollywood has been criticised by multiple human rights groups in recent years for giving its limited gay roles to straight actors, as well as giving transgender roles to cisgender actors.

When looking at footage from Todd Haynes' Carol, based on Patricia Highsmith's novel about a forbidden love affair between two women, she said she had never been asked more questions about her sexuality than when she played a lesbian character. Many interviewers during the Carol junket seemed to imply or question whether having a lesbian experience was essential to understanding such a role.

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For Blanchett, she believes this 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.

"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," said.

"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," she said.

Blanchett said "part of being an actor is an anthropological exercise" for her.

"So you get to examine a time frame, a set of experiences, an historical event that you didn'' know anything about.""

The actress is hopeful that more gay films are being greenlit today.