Great Britain

Kristen Stewart says issue of straight actors playing gay characters is ‘such a grey area’

Kristen Stewart has added her voice to the debate over whether gay characters should only be played by gay actors.

Stewart is currently promoting the Christmas romantic comedy Happiest Season, in which she stars as Abby, a young woman who plans to propose to her girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) while at her family's house for Christmas, but discovers her partner hasn't yet come out to her conservative parents.

When asked what she thinks of straight actors playing gay characters, Stewart – who is bisexual – told Variety that as a “young white girl who was straight” and “skinny”, she has always been lucky to have a lot of work, so she thinks about this question a lot.  

“I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who’s lived that experience,” she said. “Having said that, it’s a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I’m going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law. I think it’s such a grey area.”

Stewart added that actors know where they are “allowed” to go. “I mean, if you’re telling a story about a community and they’re not welcoming to you, then f*** off,” she said. “But if they are, and you’re becoming an ally and a part of it and there’s something that drove you there in the first place that makes you uniquely endowed with a perspective that might be worthwhile, there’s nothing wrong with learning about each other.”

The actor also said her Happiest Season co-star Davis does not identify as a lesbian but was the “only person in my mind that could have played this with me”.

She concluded: “I absolutely would never want to traipse on someone else’s opportunity to do that – I would feel terrible about that. So my answer is f***ing think about what you’re doing! And don’t be an a**hole.”

Earlier this month, Colin Firth discussed the same topic, saying he remains undecided on whether it is right for straight actors to play gay roles. He will be starring opposite Stanley Tucci as one half of a gay couple in the forthcoming film Supernova

“I don’t have a final position on this. I think the question is still alive,” he said. “It’s something I take really seriously and I gave it a lot of thought before doing this.”

Happiest Season is available to buy and rent from 26 November.

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