Gay actors in Hollywood treated like second-class citizens – Rupert Everett

The actor says he has missed out on starring in blockbuster films because of his sexuality.
The actor says he has missed out on starring in blockbuster films because of his sexuality.

Rupert Everett has said he lost out on “three or four” roles in big Hollywood films because he is gay.

The actor described the film industry as “aggressively heterosexual”, adding that gay performers are treated like “second-class citizens”.

Everett told the Press Association: “There’s tons of roles that I haven’t got for lots of different reasons, some of them probably for not being a good enough actor or doing a lousy audition, all that counts.

“But there were three or four big films, when I was successful, that the director and the other actors wanted me to be in and that I was absolutely blocked from by a studio, just for the fact of being gay.

“That does absolutely happen. But at the same time it has been the making of me as well.

The Happy Prince Premiere – London
Everett at The Happy Prince Premiere in Leicester Square (Matt Crossick/PA)

“The struggle that has forced me to have has been great, in a way.

“I think it has forced me always to try and be creative, to try and make something up.

“I think my career as a writer would not have happened if I had been heterosexual, active, working non-stop.”

The star of My Best Friend’s Wedding and the St Trinian’s films now serves as the writer, director and star of The Happy Prince, in which he plays Oscar Wilde living in exile after his release from prison.

Everett said: “My position of working in this aggressively heterosexual milieu of show business has definitely made me feel kind of parallel (to Wilde).

“Of course I haven’t been put in prison and subjected to hard labour and I haven’t died from it but I have been constantly on the back foot, really, in my career as a gay actor.

“I obviously went into this business applying for world domination and that is an impossible thing to really achieve, certainly in the 80s and 90s.

“Maybe things are changing a bit now, things are loosening up and I hope they go further.

He added: “I think Hollywood is a business that is made and for … it is just very hetero, it is very clubby and it is very male, or historically it is, so you need to fit into that to really benefit.

“This is what the women have been going on about, how compromising it feels to them to just have to fit into it.

“I think that is the centrum, the bottom of the Me Too argument really.

“It is a subtle thing, taking part in a boys’ club – a straight boys’ club – and if you are a woman in it you have to bend yourself towards that world and if you are a gay in it, you are a second-class citizen, really, and subjected, at a certain point, to a brick wall, in terms of getting on.”

He thinks gay actors still exist for a “certain function”.

“My function was as a gay best friend, a confidante, a kind of hairdresser, constantly there with the curling tongs, which is fair enough but as a performer there is not very far you can go with that before you bore everyone s**tless,” he said.

“The point is, for gay performers there is no, or very little, back and forth.

“In other words, the straights can play all the gay characters they want but the gays don’t get much of a chance to play any straight characters because, as far as this status quo is concerned, we are still gay and no matter how macho you are, they will just still think of you probably as a gay.”

The Happy Prince is released in London on June 15 and nationwide on June 22.