Tom Hanks: could I play gay now? No, and rightly so.

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks, who won an Oscar for playing a gay man dying of AIDS in Philadelphia, says he could not play gay now.

Speaking to the New York Times to promote the new Elvis Presley biopic, Hanks described both Philadelphia and Forrest Gump as ‘timely movies, at the time, that you might not be able to make now’.

Tom Hanks won Oscars for lead roles in both movies.

“Let’s address ‘Could a straight man do what I did in Philadelphia now?’

“No, and rightly so.

“The whole point of Philadelphia was don’t be afraid. One of the reasons people weren’t afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man. We’re beyond that now, and I don’t think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy.”

“It’s not a crime. It’s not boohoo, that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity. Do I sound like I’m preaching? I don’t mean to.”

If straight actors can’t play gay, then…

Some online commenters dismissed Hanks’ concern as well-meant but unnecessary. Posters claimed that if straight actors can not play gay, gay actors should consequently not play straight.

However, as Alicia Dawn pointed out on Twitter, straight actors don’t face the same issues of ‘stereotypes, misrepresentation and utter invisibility’.

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