Let’s play a parlor game: Pick a Best Actor Oscar winner (like Michael Douglas) and pick the great gay biopic role for him to play (like Liberace)! I’ve come up with five options, and I’m psyched to hear yours. I threw in a bonus Best Actress scenario for the hell of it.
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Merv Griffin
Yes, I’m requesting that the man who perfectly portrayed Truman Capote revive his penchant for gregarious gayness as Merv Griffin. Don’t mess with me here. Griffin, the legendary showman who also gifted us with our 7-8 p.m. staples Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, lived a life as glitzy as Liberace’s. His talk show was pretty fab, and I’d die to see archive footage of Hoffman singing “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.” Naturally, the most exciting segments would concern Dance Fever host Deney Terrio’s unsuccessful sexual harassment suit and assistant Brent Plott’s $200 palimony suit.
Geoffrey Rush as Peter Tchaikovsky
Shine got us warmed up for Geoffrey Rush’s capacity to play prodigies, and The King’s Speech gave us a glimpse into his ability with quaint, turn-of-the-20th-century roles, so why not combine the two with a Tchaikovsky biopic? The Swan Lake composer’s same-sex dalliances were acknowledged in letters written by the man himself, but he married a woman to please his father, prevent the possibility of public exposure, and have a family. God, even the greatest musical innovators of the past 150 years dealt with shame issues. Ugh.
Nicolas Cage as David Geffen
Crazy, but intriguing: David Geffen’s ascent from impassioned Laura Nyro representative to out gay mogul is a wild, awesome story. His PBS American Masters documentary gives me hope that his journey is worth a cinematic retelling, and I think Nicolas Cage could be shockingly believable and even more shockingly charismatic as a latter-day Geffen. The real reason I need this to happen? So Lady Gaga can play ’70s Laura Nyro. It is perfect, and everyone can thank me starting now.
Jamie Foxx as James Baldwin
OK, how hasn’t this happened? James Baldwin was a black gay intellectual who left the U.S., returned for social causes, and befriended greats like Lorraine Hansberry, Nina Simone, and Langston Hughes. As archived footage proves, the most spellbinding thing about him is his ability to engross a room with his brilliance, even in the face of an insulting foil like William F. Buckley. He also didn’t mind expressing an unpopular opinion, as he criticized his contemporary Richard Wright’s Native Son for not containing “complex characters.” I need a good biopic about witty, socially conscious people. Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle wasn’t it. This could be.
Jean Dujardin as Rock Hudson
Here it is, perfectly: Jean Dujardin is 40, the age when Rock Hudson was in the middle of his Doris Day streak, just before McMillan and Wife. It’s when Hudson’s star is beginning to fade, and rumors about his sexual orientation are swirling. His sham marriage is well in his past. Dujardin has such a captivating and beguiling appeal that I’d love to see him tackle the role of an American screen icon, capture his all-American essence, and — like he did in The Artist — show us the difference between onscreen flair and offscreen uncertainty. The guy is also crazy hot, and a Rock Hudson biopic would celebrate this.
Bonus: Jennifer Lawrence as Sally Ride
Come on. J-Law needs a lesbian role yesterday. Let’s get aeronautical with it.