On Monday, June 13, Tom Hanks expressed his opinion regarding LGBTQ+ roles being played by straight personalities to The New York Times Magazine. The Elvis star stated that he would no longer accept roles requiring the portrayal of queer characters.
Hanks acted as a gay man with HIV in the renowned 1994 film Philadelphia, but he would not take up a similar role today. In the interview, Hanks disclosed his belief that a straight actor cannot depict a homosexual person in the current age. In his own words,
"We're beyond that now."
The 65-year-old further insinuated that straight actors should rightfully refrain from portraying LGBTQ+ roles.
"Let's address, 'Could a straight man do what I did in Philadelphia now?' No, and rightly so."
What did Tom Hanks say about straight actors taking up LGBTQ+ roles in recent times?
In The New York Times Magazine interview published on Wednesday, June 15, Hanks revealed that he was not bothered by his portrayal of a homosexual character in Philadelphia. According to the actor, the lack of concern was fueled by the film's point being to not "be afraid."
However, Tom Hanks added:
"We're beyond that now, and I don't think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy."
Following his role as the HIV-stricken homosexual lawyer Andrew Beckett, Hanks won his first Oscar in 1994 for his performance in Philadelphia. The actor also addressed the death count of HIV-positive patients in the US. He said:
"I know that my work, in this case, is magnified by the fact that the streets of heaven are too crowded with angels. We know their names. They number a thousand for each one of the red ribbons that we wear here tonight. They finally rest in the warm embrace of the gracious creator of us all."
Later, Tom Hanks elaborated on why he thinks that modern audiences are right to demand representation. The 65-year-old Hollywood star said:
"It's not a crime, it's not boohoo that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity."
While speaking to The New York Times Magazine, The Da Vinci Code star clarified that his movies Philadelphia and Forrest Gump worked in that specific time, but they would receive much criticism now. According to Hanks, they "would be picked apart on social media."
Hanks received consecutive Oscars for his performance in both the films. In Forrest Gump, the actor played an intellectually disabled character.
Netizens have mixed reactions to Tom Hanks' comment on LGTBQ+ portrayal
Following Hanks' interview, numerous tweets questioned the logic behind the actor's statement. Some joked that Hanks should not have voiced Woody from Toy Story, or played the role of Captain Chesley Sullenberger in his biopic since the actor is not a pilot in reality.
However, many defended the actor and even praised the Elvis star for his forward thinking. They appreciated the veteran actor for openly talking about representation in the industry.