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Aaron Sorkin Sparks Debate After Saying Only Casting Gay Actors In Gay Roles Is An 'Empty Gesture'

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The debate of casting gay actors in gay roles continues as Aaron Sorkin states the choice is an "empty gesture."

Sorkin, known for writing TV show The West Wing and movies Steve Jobs and The Social Network, had an interview with the Sunday Times in the UK where he discussed his latest movie, Being the Ricardos.

This film has received criticism for casting Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball's husband. Bardem is Spanish while Arnez was born in Cuba.

Sorkin calls this criticism a "little chilling."

“This should be the last place there are walls."
"Spanish and Cuban are not actable."
"If I was directing you in a scene and said: ‘It’s cold, you can’t feel your face.’ That’s actable."
"But if I said: ‘Be Cuban,’ That is not actable."

He then commented on casting LGBTQ+ people in LGBTQ+ roles.

“Nouns aren’t actable."
"Gay and straight aren’t actable."
"You can act being attracted to someone, but can’t act gay or straight."
“So this notion that only gay actors should play gay characters?"
"That only a Cuban actor should play Desi?"
"Honestly, I think it’s the mother of all empty gestures and a bad idea.”


Bardem also gave an interview recently commenting on the criticism:

"I’m an actor, and that’s what I do for a living: try to be people that I’m not.”

Sorkin also spoke last month about the casting.

He told the Hollywood Reporter they worked with a "Latina casting consultant."

“We know when we’re being demeaning."
“We know that Blackface is demeaning because of its historical context because you’re making ridiculous cartoon caricatures out of people."
“We know that Mickey Rooney with the silly piece in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and that makeup doing, silly Japanese speak, we know that’s demeaning."
"This is not, I felt."
"Having an actor who was born in Spain playing a character who was born in Cuba was not demeaning."
"And it wasn’t just the casting consultant who agreed, Lucy and Desi’s Cuban-American daughter didn’t have a problem with it."
"So, I’m very comfortable with it.”

The conversation around casting those with lived experience in roles with that same lived experience is not new.

Russell T. Davis, screenwriter for It’s A Sin, was proud that he cast LGBTQ+ actors in LGBTQ+ roles.

He told AnotherMag:

“My take is to cast gay as gay."
"Absolutely. I believe that profoundly."
"I think you not only get authenticity; you get revenge for 100 years of straight-washing."
“And I’ll tell you what, no, I don’t mind a gay actor playing straight."
"Because from the age of eight, gay people learn to fit in with the straight world and act straight."
"That’s something we know very profoundly in our hearts."
“So if you want a great performance, cast a gay actor as a straight man because he’s been studying how straight men behave for an awful long time.”

Once the news of Sorkin's comments on LGBTQ+ casting went public, he received even more criticism than when he started.












Not long ago, a similar conversation was had when openly transgender actress Alexandra Billings was up for the role of Mary Poppins in the live musical production.

Eddie Redmayne, a cisgender man, also recently reflected on his role as a transgender woman in The Danish Girl and regretted it.

There shouldn't be debate when it comes to the representation of those marginalized and oppressed.