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Here’s The 10 Actors That Won Oscars For Playing LGBT Roles (and Their Speeches)

Here's The 10 Actors That Won Oscars For Playing LGBT Roles (and Their Speeches)

It’s a long-standing joke that one of the main things you have to do to win an Oscar is “play gay,” and this year we might see that very thing happen to Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch (against our better wishes). If he does, he’ll join what’s a pretty incredible amount of folks — all of them straight — who have won Oscars for playing LGBT characters since 1986. In under 30 years, 10 actors have won Academy Awards in this respect, 8 of them since the year 2000. And here’s the part that’ll get you going. All but one (or two — depending on your interpretation) play characters who — SPOILER ALERT — die at the end. Just like Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing does in “The Imitation Game” (which isn’t a spoiler given he plays a tragic real-life person).

Presenting a history of playing LGBT and winning Oscars (and the speeches that resulted):

1. William Hurt

The year: 1986
The film: Hector Babenco’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman”
The role: Luis Molina, a fictional gay man in prison for having sex with an underage boy.
Did the character die? Yep, he’s shot by homophobic police who then dump his body in a garbage pit and cover up the death.

Watch his Oscar speech:

2. Tom Hanks

The year: 1994
The film: Jonathan Demme’s “Philadelphia”
The role: Andrew Beckett, a fictional lawyer dying of AIDS who is unlawfully fired from his law film.
Did the character die? Yes, the film ends with his funeral.

Watch his Oscar speech:

3. Hilary Swank
The year: 2000
The film: Kimberly Pierce’s “Boys Don’t Cry” (notably Pierce is one of four filmmakers on this list who are openly LGBT themselves)
The role: Brandon Teena, a real-life trans man beaten, raped and murdered after its discovered he is anatomically female.
Did the character die? See above.

Watch her Oscar speech:

4. Nicole Kidman
The year: 2003
The film: Stephen Daldry’s “The Hours”
The role: Virginia Woolf, the remarkably talented and troubled real-life author.  
Did the character die? She kills herself.

Watch her Oscar speech:

5. Charlize Theron
The year: 2004
The film: Patty Jenkins’ “Monster”
The role: Aileen Wuornos, the real-life serial killer and former prostitute. 
Did the character die? She is executed by lethal injection. 

Watch her Oscar speech:

6. Phillip Seymour Hoffman
The year: 2006
The film: Bennett Miller’s “Capote”
The role: Truman Capote, the famed real-life author and playwright. 
Did the character die? Not in the film! Capote himself died in 1984, but the film surrounds the events of his writing “In Cold Blood” in the 1960s. 

Watch his Oscar speech:

7. Sean Penn
The year: 2009
The film: Gus Van Sant’s “Milk”
The role: Harvey Milk, the iconic real-life gay rights activist and politician. 
Did the character die? Yes, he is assassinated.

Watch his Oscar speech:

8. Natalie Portman

The year: 2011
The film: Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan”
The role: Nina, a bisexual (at least in her dreams) fictional ballet dancer with some serious issues (we know, her being here is questionable). 
Did the character die? That’s up for discussion. “I felt it. Perfect. It was perfect.”
Watch her Oscar speech:

9. Christopher Plummer
The year: 2012
The film: Mike Mills’ “Beginners”
The role: Hal, a fictional gay man who doesn’t come out until old age.

Did the character die? Yes. But it’s the least tragic example on this list!

Watch his Oscar speech:

10. Jared Leto

The year: 2014
The film: Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Dallas Buyers Club”
The role: Rayon, a trans woman who helps bring illegal HIV/AIDS meds to the people of Dallas.
Did the character die? Yes.

Watch his Oscar speech:

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