Luke Evans Explains Why He’s ‘Not Sure’ That Only Gay Actors Should Play LGBTQ+ Roles

Luke Evans in Nine Perfect Strangers
(Image credit: Hulu)

Over the years, numerous straight actors have famously played LGBTQ+ roles and vice versa. As of late, especially as more queer actors have portrayed notable movie and TV characters, there’s a continued conversation within the industry regarding whether only gay actors should be playing gay roles. The latest star to share their thoughts on this Luke Evans, an openly gay actor who has starred in the live-action Beauty and the Beast and the Fast and Furious movies, among many other films and shows. And as he explained, he's "not sure" whether those roles should be exclusive to members of the community.

Luke Evans' comments were in response to Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies, who told the NY Times in 2021 about his negative thoughts on straight actors being cast to “act gay” for roles. When speaking to this ongoing discussion regarding whether only gay actors should play LGBTQ+ roles, here what Evans got candid about his own expreriences in the industry:

I’m not sure about that. Gay people have definitely missed out on gay roles, for sure. Russell spoke very powerfully, passionately, about this point. I get it, and I totally think that things do need to change. But from my perspective: firstly, I wouldn’t have had a career if gay people played gay roles and straight people played straight roles. I’d have played two roles out of the 36 projects I’ve worked on, or whatever [the number] is.

As Luke Evans shared with The Telegraph, if he had gone by the rule for himself to only play gay characters because he is a gay man, he would have been significantly less successful. One could argue that there are still currently many more straight roles out there than queer ones. While Evans agrees some things need to change in Hollywood in regard to queer representation, he thinks things should be determined through a key factor:

… the right person gets the job. Talent and ability, and a bit of luck and timing ... That should be the reason why you get a job. It shouldn’t have anything to do with anything else.

In recent months, a number of actors have been criticized for taking on queer roles. Harry Styles for example, who has only been known to date women and often accused of “queerbaiting” with his sexual fluidity, started a conversation through his recent role in LGBTQ+ drama, My Policeman. Additionally, Brendan Fraser received criticism for playing a queer man in a fatsuit in The Whale, which he’s getting award season praise for. 

At some point, Luke Evans is expected to resume his role as Gaston in a Beauty and the Beast spinoff (which seems to have stalled at the moment) alongside Josh Gad after the live-action movie attempted the first gay moment for a big screen Disney movie. Years later, Gad shared how he felt the movie “didn’t go far enough” in its representation when LeFou danced with a man briefly at the end of it. You can check out Evans in the movie (along with his recent role in the live-action Pinocchio) using a Disney+ subscription

This is clearly a complex issue. On one hand, more queer actors should be given a chance to represent their community with authenticity but, on the other, no matter one’s sexual identity and orientation, good actors should be getting good roles that matches their talents. Luke Evans speaks to his own experience, spanning over a decade in Hollywood and he feels that if he’d gone by this ideal, he simply wouldn’t be the well-known name that he is today.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.