It's Not Easy Playing Gay. (Notes from a Blond)

Article excerpt

My friend the openly gay actor was bitching over his sugar-free, fat-free, flour-free, and flavor-flee chocolate mousse: "I've played so many gay parts, people are beginning to think I'm straight." Well, that is a hazard of the profession. A gay actor can't play very many gay parts; otherwise people will forget he's an actor and just assume he's one of those gay people who show up and let themselves be filmed and fool everyone into thinking they're acting. Whereas straight actors really have to work at it to get to the core of the homosexual (when we all know that leaving a phone number would get them to quite a few cores at warp speed).

Being gay is apparently so incredibly different from being straight that straight actors who attempt it are routinely showered with praise and glittering prizes. "It's worth it," my friend the openly straight actor told me the next day over the exact same chocolate mousse, "even though you sometimes have to do a lot of dry-humping with some other guy. Girls you don't know look at you as a challenge," he joked. I think.

Actors of all sexual persuasions are always searching for The Truth of a character. Once they find this truth, they can then make us believe that whatever they are pretending is happening actually is happening. They ask us to deposit our feelings about and knowledge of them as people at the box office with our money. This is sometimes difficult to do, as many times these are precisely the reasons we are drawn to them. Nevertheless, we are expected to enter into this compact with them: Everything they're doing is make-believe, but it all comes from truth. No wonder people pig out on junk food when they go to the movies.

Sometimes, actors are asking us a lot. I once had a boozy conversation with the great Colleen Dewhurst, then president of Actors' Equity, who felt strongly that Laurence Olivier should never have been allowed to play Othello. "So by your reckoning," I told her, trying not to fall forward onto the table, "you should only be allowed to play big Irish drunks. …