Neil Patrick Harris says it’s ‘sexy’ for straight actors to play gay
22nd January 2021

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An out gay actor famous for playing it straight approves of straight actors playing gay for pay.

Heterosexual actors portraying queer characters has become a controversial topic in Hollywood, with many in the LGBTQ+ community arguing that they should be telling their own stories.

However, Neil Patrick Harris revealed Thursday that he thinks directors should hire the “best actor” regardless of orientation — even claiming that it’s “sexy” when straight actors play gay.

“I think there’s something sexy about casting a straight actor to play a gay role — if they’re willing to invest a lot into it,” Harris, 47, told The Times.

The button-pushing subject came up while the “How I Met Your Mother” star was discussing his upcoming role as Henry Coltrane in Russell T. Davies’ five-part AIDS crisis drama “It’s a Sin,” which will air on Channel 4 in the UK.

Davies recently voiced support for sexual preference-appropriate casting in an interview with the Radio Times. “You wouldn’t cast someone able-bodied and put them in a wheelchair; you wouldn’t black someone,” the “Queer as Folk” screenwriter explained. “Authenticity is leading us to joyous places.”

The filmmaker also told the Independent that he’s “trying to avenge hundreds of years of inequality. The series has also unashamedly cast gay people in straight roles. I think that’s fine, because, believe you me, from the age of 8 we are studying straight people and how to fit in with them.”

However, Harris, who memorably played the heterosexual character Barney Stinson in the comedy series “How I Met Your Mother,” felt that this line of thinking paradoxically prevented LGBTQ+ thespians from playing it straight.

“I played a character for nine years who was nothing like me,” said the Tony winner of his aforementioned stint. “I would definitely want to hire the best actor.”

Harris also memorably portrayed lady-loving characters in the David Fincher thriller “Gone Girl,” “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” and many other flicks.

“In our world that we live in you can’t really as a director demand that [an actor be gay or straight],” the “Series Of Unfortunate Events” star said. “Who’s to determine how gay someone is?”

Harris stands out in a Hollywood that increasingly supports LGBTQ+ roles going more exclusively to LGBTQ+ actors. Darren Criss, who played the gay character Blaine Anderson in “Glee” and replaced Harris as the transgender lead character in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” on Broadway, announced in 2018 that he was done taking on roles that could be filled by actors who often miss out on the chance to represent themselves on screen.

Meanwhile, a 2019 study by the advocacy group GLAAD reported that LGBTQ representation had reached an all-time high on network television. The percentage of regularly seen characters on prime-time broadcast TV this season reached was 10.2 percent, or 90 out of a total of 879 characters, according to the study. That topped 2018’s record of 8.8 percent and achieved the 10 percent goal that GLAAD had set for the networks by 2020.

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