Thursday, January 13, 2011

Glee's Jane Lynch: "Straight Audiences Not Ready For Gay Actors in Leading Roles"

At the Fox Television Critics Association Winter Tour party on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, Emmy award-winning actress Jane Lynch was on hand to promote the upcoming season of Glee. Michael Jensen from had the chance to ask the out actress about the issue of gay actors not being cast in straight leading roles.

Here is what Lynch, a Hollywood veteran, had to say on the subject.

AfterElton: Jane, this week The Daily Beast ran an article talking about gay actors not getting cast in straight parts, and I’m just wondering what your experience in Hollywood tells you about where we’re at with gay actors. I mean, there are a lot of gay actors getting work right now but what about the leading roles? When do you think we’ll see more of that?
Jane Lynch: I don’t know when or if that will ever happen. I think because since most of the world is straight — and maybe we'll get to a place where this will happen — most of the world is straight and we want the audience to project their hopes and dreams for love and romance onto those actors. And if it’s not in some way possible, maybe never probably, in their mind that it could never happen, then they're not going to do it. You know, most people are straight, and I think that’s probably why.

AE: So you think audience acceptance is keeping networks and casting directors from making…
JL: Yes. This is a business of projection and desiring people from afar. And watching people go through trials and tribulations, so there has got to be some truth to it, in terms of, "I could see myself with that person." Because the leading man and lady are the person we want them to fall in love with, and most of the audience is straight. So for right now, we can only use straight actors.

Look, I’ve never -- as far as I know, it’s been behind my back if it has — I’ve never been turned down for a role because I’m gay. I’m a character actor, and that’s probably why. I don’t find Hollywood, in my own experience, to be homophobic. Have I ever been turned down? I don’t know because you never know when you don’t get something or why you didn’t get it. But I do think the straight folks will continue to play the straight roles.

AE: I just want to follow up because I want to make sure I don’t misquote you and that you understood the question.
JL: Oh, are you afraid I said something terrible and you’re going to use it as a headline? “Jane Lynch doesn’t think blah blah blah!”

AE: I don’t want to put something in a context that is inaccurate. What I understood you to say was you thought audiences, it was going to be very hard for openly gay actors to get those lead roles…
JL: Right.

AE: Because audiences weren’t going to accept them?
JL: Yep.

AE: A lot of people’s reaction might be, “Everybody knows that so and so isn’t a killer or isn’t really an astronaut, but audiences don't have any trouble ..."
JL: Oh, I know. But what they want, what studios want, is for people to project their hopes and their dreams for romance onto these people, and I think that’s what stops them from casting gay people.

AE: So you think it’s the studios?
JL: Studios. It’s everybody looking at the bottom-line.

AE: Ok, because audiences will have a hard time if they know…
JL: That the actors is gay, yeah. Yeah. Now I, as a 50-year-old woman and a lesbian, could probably do [it], because I’m not 25. I could probably do a romantic straight thing, which I’ve done before. Because I’m not a young ... I think they want their young Romeo/Juliet archetypes to be straight.

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