Jack Whitehall will play Disney’s first openly gay character in the upcoming adventure movie Jungle Cruise.
The film, loosely based on the ride of the same name, has been in the making for over a decade. It is being directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt.
Whitehall confirmed on Instagram that he will appear in the film as well, but did not give away any details about his role.
I’m so honoured to be part of this epic adventure – @disneysjunglecruise. Filming is underway and I am having the time of my life with my amazing co stars. It’s so cool to be part of something of this scale and also as possibly one of the biggest Disney nerds on the planet so exciting to be working on a project with this much history. Watch to the end of this video and see the most incredible set I’ve ever seen. They built it from the ground up and walking onto it for the first time a month ago was like stepping back in time. Can’t wait for you to see this film… #junglecruise
However, according to The Sun, Whitehall’s character will be a “fun, effete” young man, and it will be made clear that he “has no interest in women.”
“This is a huge gig for Jack and has landed him his biggest ever paycheck,” a source reportedly told the publication. “But, more excitingly, he is playing a gay man—one who is hugely effete, very camp and very funny. It’s a dream role.”
“Disney’s always been incredibly supportive of the LGBTQ community,” the individual added. “This latest script, set at a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable to be gay, is another significant turning point.”
Last year’s live-action Beauty and the Beast included a scene that hinted at LeFou’s homosexuality, which was enough to upset many conservatives but still did not constitute a fully realized gay character.
Not everyone is pleased with the news, with some taking to Twitter to voice their upset that Whitehall, a heterosexual man, will play a gay character, instead of the role going to a queer actor.
Comparisons are being made to the controversy that followed Scarlett Johansson’s casting as a transgender individual. She has since dropped out of the project.
It’s not that it’s a problem to cast a fantastic straight ally to play a gay role, it’s that there are so many gay actors that are under represented in all sorts of roles across the board… and so I think that this is, fantastic, but also a bit sad 😔 #JungleCruise
— James Barr 🏳️🌈 (@imjamesbarr) August 13, 2018
— Omar Sharif Jr. (@OmarSharifJr) August 13, 2018
— Chris Salvatore (@CSalvatore) August 12, 2018
If Scarlett Johansson wasn’t allowed to play a trans man then Jack Whitehall shouldn’t be allowed to play a gay man. Especially so when you consider there are absolute hundreds of out gay men in Hollywood who are better actors than him
— Sophie WilkINson (@sophwilkinson) August 13, 2018
— James P-N (@jkpn91) August 13, 2018
— Callum Jackson (@cjjackson93) August 13, 2018