Kate Winslet said she personally knows several gay actors in Hollywood who are terrified of coming out publicly for fear that it will prevent them from being cast in straight roles. Winslet recently earned notices for playing a lesbian character in the romance “Ammonite” opposite Saoirse Ronan, even though neither actor identifies as LGBTQ.
“I cannot tell you the number of young actors I know — some well known, some starting out — who are terrified their sexuality will be revealed and that it will stand in the way of their being cast in straight roles,” the Academy Award-winning actress told The Sunday Times. “Now that’s f***ed up.”
Winslet is back in the spotlight for her upcoming HBO miniseries “Mare of Easttown,” playing an embattled detective in a small Pennsylvania town. She also said she knows a “well-known” actor who just got a new agent, and that agent told the client, “I understand you are bisexual. I wouldn’t publicize that.”
Winslet added, “I can think of at least four actors absolutely hiding their sexuality. It’s painful because they fear being found out. And that’s what they say, ‘I don’t want to be found out.'”
Winslet observed it’s harder for men to come out in Hollywood because there is a pervasive belief among certain corners of the industry that gay actors can’t play straight. She called this “dated crap,” adding, “That should be almost illegal. You would not believe how widespread it is. And it can’t just be distilled to the question about gay actors playing gay parts. Because actors, in some cases, are choosing not to come out for personal reasons. And it’s nobody’s business.”
Winslet said she’s speaking up so that burgeoning actors new to the industry can feel safer about their careers. “I don’t intend to browbeat or take on Hollywood,” she said. “We’re just talking about young actors who might be considering joining this profession, and finding a way to make it more open. For there to be less judgment, discrimination, and homophobia.”
As for partaking in a lesbian romance in “Ammonite,” Winslet said she didn’t take the role from an LGBTQ actor because it was only ever offered to her. “In taking this part, I had an opportunity to bring an LGBTQ story into living rooms,” she said.
“Mare of Easttown” premieres on HBO April 18.