30 Straight Actors Who Have Gone Gay For a Film Role

While Richard Chamberlain and John Travolta might agree that Hollywood is still not a safe place for leading men and women to be open about their sexuality, the entertainment industry has embraced and rewarded the heterosexual men and women willing to play gay on-screen. The latest example is Mickey Rourke, who has confirmed that he too will join that bandwagon by playing Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas (who announced that he was gay just last December) in an upcoming biopic. In honor of this role -- which, hell, might win Rourke the Oscar that evaded him for The Wrestler, when he lost to someone on this very list -- Movieline reviews which hetero actors have gone gay or transsexual for a role, and which were awarded Academy Awards along the way.

· Robert Redford, Inside Daisy Clover (1965)

Redford received a Golden Globe nomination for playing a closeted homosexual married to a recording star (Natalie Wood) in this box office failure from Robert Mulligan.

· Marlon Brando, Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)

This John Huston film featured Brando as a repressed homosexual (married to Elizabeth Taylor's character) on an Army base in the 1940s. Although this movie failed to win Brando any Oscar nominations, footage of his character was later recycled in Apocalypse Now for Young Kurtz. Fun fact!

· Al Pacino, Cruising (1980)

A critical disaster from William Friedkin, Cruising was based on a novel about a NYC serial killer who targeted gay men involved in the 70's S&M scene. Pacino's character is a cop who goes deep undercover to investigate.

· William Hurt, Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

Héctor Babenco's adaptation of the Manuel Puig novel won William Hurt an Oscar for playing a pedophile who falls in love with his South American cell mate (Raúl Juliá).

· River Phoenix, My Own Private Idaho (1991)

This Gus Van Sant indie featured Phoenix as a narcoleptic gay street hustler who travels with his best friend (Keanu Reeves) back to his hometown in Idaho.

· Forest Whitaker, The Crying Game (1992)

As a British soldier in this psychological thriller, Whitaker's character convinces an IRA soldier (Stephen Rea) to check on his girlfriend back home -- only for the soldier to realize that the girlfriend is actually a foxy transsexual.

· Tom Hanks, Philadelphia (1993)

This pivotal role in Hanks's career -- as a closeted homosexual lawyer who contracts HIV and is consequently fired -- won him an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

· Will Smith, Six Degrees of Separation (1993)

Legend has it that Denzel Washington warned Smith not to kiss another man in this film for fear of ruining the Men in Black star's career. Here, Smith stars as a con-artist feigning to be Sidney Poitier's son -- and who does not kiss another man onscreen.

· Leonardo DiCaprio, Total Eclipse (1995)

Based on a Christopher Hampton play, this feature starred DiCaprio as a 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud who engaged in a fiery romantic relationship with peer Paul Verlaine.

· Robin Williams, The Birdcage (1996)

Robin Williams starred as the owner of a South Beach drag club who, along with his partner (Nathan Lane), feign heterosexuality for his son's disapproving future in-laws.

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  • milessilverberg says:

    This is a long enough list that it shouldn't be treated like a trend piece as much as it should reinforce what needs to change in Hollywood: of course lots of "straight" men are happy to add the status symbol of playing gay, but that's because there aren't enough openly gay actors around to even the score. And the relatively few who are openly gay either don't want to be pidgen-holed, or else are discriminated against by studios and casting agencies.
    So, yay and hooray for these 30 men who decided to benefit from knowing what their job fully entails. But hopefully this ooh-ahh list will spark other kinds of debates.

  • "So, yay and hooray for these 30 men..."
    And women!

  • stolidog says:

    I think there needs to be a subcatagory here:
    Several gay men who pretend to be straight who are among 30 actors who have played gay for a film role.

  • milessilverberg says:

    Oops! Pardon my fox paws.

  • stolidog says:

    And women!

  • Natalie Murray says:

    Hate to tell you this, peeps, but two of these can be disqualified, on the grounds that transsexual does not equal homosexual. So The Crying Game and Buys Don't Cry, neither of which involve a homosexual relationship, should not be in this list.

  • Trisha says:

    You forgot Christopher Meloni in Oz!

  • Bible Prophecy says:

    The Holy Bible says,
    "Do NOT lie with a man
    as one lies with a woman;
    that is detestable."
    (Leviticus 18:22).
    God foresaw that
    "...men also abandoned natural relations with women
    and were inflamed with lust for one another.
    Men committed indecent acts with other men,
    and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
    (Romans 1:27).
    God also foresaw that
    "...women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones."
    (Romans 1:26).
    Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts
    to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. (Romans 1:24).
    Do you not know that...homosexual offenders...will NOT inherit the kingdom of God? (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

  • The Winchester says:

    Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck in In and Out!

  • Smarmy Fierstein says:

    Jude Law wasn't Matt Damon's lover in Mr. Ripley, was he?

  • SunnydaZe says:

    Bible Prophecy and Stinkflipper are the new Abbott & Costello!

  • ASA says:

    it is a shame for all of them not only actors, but all humans that indulge in gay or lesbian practice. You are just making urself a piece of shit no matter what u are or hw rich u are. It is sheer stupidity and selling away of ur PR and respect.

  • blizzard bound says:

    No. Jude was Damon's desired lover, yes?
    On a separate note, my favorite in this category is Philip Seymour Hoffman in Flawless. He was brilliant in that movie. I think acting like that deflates the who's gay who isn't who's out who isn't purists. Sometimes acting is just good acting, no?

  • M. says:

    Of course, you can have your opinion and think that homosexuality and transgenderness [?] are against the Bible.
    But, really, everyone has heard it before; I doubt you're going to change anyone's mind. If it offends you, don't click on an article with "gay" in the title.

  • huh says:

    No John Voigt, arguably, in Midnight Cowboy?

  • gadzooks says:

    FTR: the gay lover that Tom Ripley kills at the end of the film THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY is Peter Smith-Kingsley, played by Jack Davenport.

  • gadzooks says:

    FTR: the gay lover that Tom Ripley kills at the end of the film THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY is Peter Smith-Kingsley, played by Jack Davenport.

  • blizzard bound says:

    Thank you. At least I remember someone got killed.

  • Oh, you guys and your silly lists...how many times did you titter as you put "certain" names on this list?
    And, Brando basically admitted to being bi-ish. A certain infamous photo of him tends to prove it.

  • The Toothy Tile Fan Club thanks you.

  • Oh, you guys and your silly lists...how many times did you titter as you put "certain" names on this list?
    And, Brando basically admitted to being bi-ish. A certain infamous photo of him tends to prove it.

  • Philly B says:

    You forgot about Michael Ian Black and Bradley Cooper in Wet Hot American Summer.

  • TurdBlossom says:

    Get off the cross (somebody needs the wood)

  • TurdBlossom says:

    JRM is straight? Since when?

  • Correction says:

    Jake Gyllenhaal is gay.