A few days before Meredith Baxter (the mom from Family Ties) came out of the closet, the always-outspoken Rupert Everett had some choice words for gay actors: get comfy in the closet. Coincidentally, Everett's new movie St. Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold, has him playing Camilla Fritton, an eccentric headmistress who looks like a cross between the Queen Mum and Madame the puppet. In the previous St. Trinians, which I couldn't sit through, he also played her brother, Carnaby.

The openly gay actor blames coming out of the closet for the state of his career, telling The Guardian, "The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business. It just doesn't work and you're going to hit a brick wall at some point. You're going to manage to make it roll for a certain amount of time, but at the first sign of failure they'll cut you right off. And I'm sick of saying, 'Yes, it's probably my own fault.' Because I've always tried to make it work and when it stops working somewhere, I try to make it work somewhere else. But the fact of the matter is, and I don't care who disagrees, it doesn't work if you're gay." (I really recommend reading the whole interview; it's very interesting.)

I'm a heterosexual woman who's also not an actor and can't speak to the true experience of being a gay man in the film industry. I first saw Everett in Cemetery Man and was later somewhat disappointed to find out the handsome star was gay, but I was more turned off by his later choice of roles than anything else. I know I am the minority when it comes to my reaction, unfortunately.
In a crappy economy when even the big studios are hurting, it's unlikely they'll want to take a crapshoot on a movie that isn't a surefire box office hit. And even an independent film that's already winning critical accolades, A Single Man, has two trailers – one that shows two men kissing and one that's been "de-gayed," as written on IndieWire. (Coincidentally, the movie stars Colin Firth, who also plays Camilla's love interest in St. Trinians.) The only openly gay actor who is both successful and plays straight men (um, actually, he's pretty much the only successful openly gay actor) is Neil Patrick Harris, and that's mostly on TV and in movies like Harold and Kumar where he plays outrageous caricatures of himself -- in the latter, as a straight man.

But could Everett's career problems also have anything to do with his general willingness to lambast Hollywood and burn bridges? With statements like "Being in Hollywood is like being in the Christian right these days" and "Obviously I'm still for hire, so if it happened I would go with it, but I don't want to be careful. I want to be a mess when I want," it makes me wonder who would hire him, gay or straight.

While I can't pretend I've ever been the object of homophobia or know about what goes on behind closed doors in Hollywood, I do wonder if Everett's "advice" is more hurtful than helpful, especially to those actors and actresses who are considering coming out.

What do you think?
categories Cinematical