Guy Pearce Apologizes for Questioning Trans Casting: It Was ‘Insensitive’

"The point I wanted to raise was one about defending the definition of acting and nothing more," the "Memento" alum said of a since-deleted tweet.
Guy Pearce
Guy Pearce

Guy Pearce is taking a moment to reflect.

The “Memento” actor issued an apology after tweeting about casting non-queer actors to portray queer characters, particularly with transgender roles.

“A question – if the only people allowed to play trans characters r trans folk, then r we also suggesting the only people trans folk can play r trans characters?” Pearce said in the since-deleted post. “Surely that will limit ur career as an actor? Isn’t the point of an actor to be able play anyone outside ur own world?”

Pearce’s own breakout role came by playing a drag queen in 1994 film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”

The “Mare of Easttown” star responded to fans on Twitter in since-deleted posts, adding (via MovieMaker magazine), “Ok, so if this debate is actually about Trans actors not getting the opportunities to work like other actors do then let’s be clear about that & state that precisely. That’s a very different point. Good to be exact, I say.”

He continued, “Also, why should one’s personal position be relevant when it comes to casting? That’s private. It’s our own business. And as we know it doesn’t truly confirm our ability to be convincing…I have to say in all my years of work most people I speak to don’t truly actually understand what acting entails. There r a lot of projections going on. There r also many people out there with incredible life experience who fall flat when camera is rolling. It’s an art form.”

Pearce shared an apology one day later.

“I posted a tweet yesterday that I shouldn’t have, which to prevent upsetting anyone else I have now deleted. A fuller apology and explanation of the point I was raising is attached,” Pearce captioned.

The attached apology memo stated in part: “I see that raising the question of gender identity within the casting process on a platform like Twitter was not a good idea. For that, I apologize, enormously. I acknowledge it has only stirred up and inflamed attitudes and made us all dig our heels in.”

Pearce admitted it is a “complex and sensitive” issue to discuss, sharing, “I understand how my question asking ‘if trans actors are the only ones allowed to play trans roles then are we also suggesting trans actors are therefore only allowed to play trans characters’ is insensitive. The point I wanted to raise was one about defending the definition of acting and nothing more. Throwing the subject onto one minority group in particular was unnecessary, especially from a man like me, with a ‘Full House’ of privilege.”

Pearce continued, “I raised the question because for 30 years now I’ve had many people ask me since doing ‘Priscilla,’ ‘Don’t you think gay people should’ve played those roles?’ and now similar discussions are occurring about trans actors and trans roles. It has led me to reflect even more about acting as an art form and its place in the world.”

He added, “Our industry is already a cesspool of politics, bums on seats funding, nepotism, and favoritism. It’s clear a great many minority communities are underrepresented onscreen and that so too are actors from those communities. But I don’t believe artists should have to announce their personal identity, sexual preference, political stance, disability, religious beliefs, etc. to attain work.”

Pearce summed up, “I wouldn’t want that restriction placed on a minority actor or any actor for that matter, myself included…To suggest ‘acting’ can only come from our own lived experience annihilates our imagination.”

He concluded with “sincere apologies for crassly focusing on just one already harassed minority in my original tweet.”

Back in 2018, Pearce made similar statements, pointing to his casting in “Priscilla” alongside Hugo Weaving and Terence Stamp.

“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 told The Guardian. “People love to be offended, which is a really offensive thing to say. Somebody is going to be offended by me saying 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.”

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.