Guy Pearce: “It’s Dangerous” to Cast Actors Based on Sexuality or Gender

"People love to be offended," says the "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" star.

Guy Pearce has addressed the recent controversial casting of straight cisgender actors such as Scarlett Johansson as a trans man in the film Rub & Tug and Jack Whitehall as a campy gay character in Disney’s live-action Jungle Cruise.

Pearce memorably played Australian drag queen Felicia Jollygoodfellow in the hit 1994 movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. But the 50-year-old actor, who starred alongside Hugo Weaving and Terence Stamp, isn’t sure three straight actors would be cast as those same queer characters today.

“We copped a bit of flak at the time: ‘Why are there three straight actors playing three gay roles?’ It’s a difficult subject to get into,” Pearce tells The Guardian.

Priscilla/Gramercy Pictures

Pearce also responds to a question about whether it’s dangerous to allow only certain actors to play certain roles because of their gender or sexuality.

“I do think it’s dangerous, personally,” he says. “I feel, like, in any of this sort of stuff, you have to take each situation…”

“I think resilience is going out the window, which is a shame,” Pearce continues. “People love to be offended, which is a really offensive thing to say. Somebody is going to be offended by me saying that.”

Meera Fox/Getty Images

Pearce says that “everybody has something in themselves they feel is fragile, delicate, misunderstood, not heard, and we want that part of ourselves to be heard. We’re not relating to each other, we’re just all going: ‘I need to be heard now and I’m going to be offended until I’m heard.’ And if you cast that person in that role: ‘I’m not heard, therefore I’m offended, therefore that’s wrong, end of conversation.’”

“What’s happening to us?” Pearce asks. “There are a lot of people who are hideously offensive out there and that needs to be addressed, but there’s a whole gamut of stuff and [people jump] on bandwagons and it’s really hard for all of us to know what to say or do.”

Pearce’s latest project, the supernatural British series The Innocents, is now streaming on Netflix.

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