Good news for anyone worried that Ellen Page coming out as a lesbian (news which got us quite excited!) would affect her chances of being cast in straight roles. The actress is in talks to play Judith Jacklin, the wife of comedian John Belushi, opposite Emile Hirsch in the indie drama “Belushi”.
This strikes us as a small but positive result. Traditionally, Hollywood has shied away from casting openly gay actors in roles where the viewer is required to believe in their attraction to the opposite sex. Of course, audiences take far greater leaps of imagination every time they watch a Hollywood actor in any number of improbable scenarios, so it has always been somewhat baffling and infuriating to see the timidity of studios on this front. Rupert Everett is among those actors to have spoken out on the issue in the past.
So we’re glad the makers of “Belushi” have not displayed this same fear and myopia in casting Page opposite Hirsch. But this remains a first step. Firstly, we’re not talking about a Hollywood studio, but a small indie production. And secondly, Page has still been cast in what we can only presume, given the film’s title and synopsis, is a supporting wife part. That’s not the kind of female role that gets us performing cartwheels here at /bent.
What do we *really* want to see? The ideal, naturally, is that actors like Ellen Page can get cast in a variety of lead roles, straight, gay or otherwise, without the need to compare their real-life sexual orientation with that of any fictional character. And that this practice happens across the board, right up to the most enormous studio productions. And that it becomes so commonplace that articles like this aren’t required.
But Ellen Page’s new $100 million action franchise, where her bisexual spy agent can’t decide between Gael Garcia Bernal, Angela Bassett or saving the world, is apparently still in development. So for now, we’re going to cheer this week’s announcement as one step in the right direction.