Cate Blanchett defends straight actors who play LGBTQ+ roles

Cate Blanchett has defended the idea of straight actors playing LGBTQ+ roles amid the ongoing conversation on diversity in Hollywood.

The Oscar-winning actress – who played a lesbian character in 2015 movie Carol – weighed-into the discussion, suggesting that questioning whether or not actors had been through a specific experience defied the point of acting.

Her comments notably come in the wake of the backlash against Scarlett Johansson playing a trans character (a role she eventually backed out of).

“It also speaks to something that I’m quite passionate about in storytelling generally, but in film specifically, is that film can be quite a literal medium,” Blanchett said during a Q&A at the Rome Film Festival (via The Hollywood Reporter).

“And I will fight to the death for the right to suspend disbelief and play roles beyond my experience. I think reality television and all that that entails had an extraordinary impact, a profound impact on the way we view the creation of character.

“I think it provides a lot of opportunity, but the downside of it is that we now, particularly in America, I think, we expect and only expect people to make a profound connection to a character when it’s close to their experience.”

Speaking after she pulled-out of the role of Dante ‘Tex’ Gill in Rub & Tug, Johansson said: “Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realised it was insensitive.

“While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person.

“And I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film.”

Johansson subsequently received praise from many in the transgender community over her decision.

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