Should Straight Actors Play Gay? “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” Cast Weighs In.

A new "Dragon Tattoo" story comes to the screen starring Claire Foy as fierce vigilante Lisbeth Salander.

This Friday (November 9), Emmy winner Claire Foy trades her tiara for a taser as she takes on the role of Lisbeth Salander, the bisexual, Batman-like vigilante who can hack into any mainframe and hang any man who hurts a woman, in The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

Reiner Bajo/Columbia Pictures

The film, a kinda-sorta-reboot with a new cast and crew, is the sequel to 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the second installment in the American-produced Millennium film series. In addition to rescuing and exacting vengeance on behalf of abused women, this time around Salander has to stop some bad guys from getting their hands on a computer program that controls the world’s nuclear weapons. The twist is that said bad guys have a deeply personal connection to Salander’s past.

The beautifully shot, edge-of-your-seat thriller is certainly entertaining and surprisingly touching at times, but what’s also worth noting is the queer representation. In the 2011 film, Lisbeth and journalist/sidekick Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) are sexually involved. In this one, Lisbeth’s lover is Maria (played by trans actress/model Andreja Pejic). In addition to her queerness, Salander is completely uninterested in gender norms.

On several occasions this year, cis/straight-identified actors playing LGBTQ parts have become headlines, including Jack Whitehall being cast as Disney’s first major gay character in Jungle Cruise and Scarlett Johansson cast to play a trans man in Rub & Tug before dropping out.

NewNowNext asked the Spider’s Web cast for their take.
 

“I think it’s very important for people to understand that if people are being represented, the people who feel they are being represented see themselves on screen,” said Foy. “And I think people feel that they can only do that when they see someone from their community playing that part, which I understand.”

Director Fede Álvarez recognizes opportunities are often limited for LGBTQ entertainers. He believes it’s getting better, but “Hollywood needs to try harder.”

Speaking of Hollywood trying harder, as the one-year anniversary of the Time’s Up initiative approaches, Foy told NewNowNext the movement empowered her as an actress to advocate for herself on set, while Alvarez said the movement and #MeToo influenced the development of Lisbeth Salander.
 

“So often if a woman is a lesbian or bisexual in a movie, it’s for the titillation of a man,” said Foy. “There was a sex scene in this movie and I said to Fede ’give me a reason why that’s there.’ It’s not that I’m shy about doing sex scenes, but I only want to do them when they serve the character, and I didn’t really see the point of that for Lisbeth.”

The Girl in the Spider’s Web opens Friday, November 9. Lakeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, and Stephen Merchant also star.

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie living in Manhattan.
@dirrtykingofpop