It’s A Sin’s Olly Alexander has weighed in on the conversation as to whether queer characters should only be played by queer actors, following the massive success of the Channel 4 programme.
The groundbreaking series follows a group of young gay men during the 80s Aids crisis (and Jill, let’s not forget Jill), and has broken records for the broadcaster while also being widely praised for launching important conversations around LGBTQ+ representation on TV.
However, before the series even aired, showrunner Russell T Davies was criticised for saying that he would personally only cast gay actors in gay roles.
Now star Olly, who plays Ritchie Tozer, has addressed Russell’s comments on queer representation and said while the issue is nuanced, the casting decision ‘makes complete sense’ to him.
Olly told Pedestrian.TV: ‘Well, I love it! I love what Russell said about how he thinks gay actors should be playing gay. If you’re going to make a queer story, hire queer people, work with queer people. Right? And we can all agree.
‘I would just love to see more queer roles in the spotlight, more queer actors getting praised for playing queer. We all want to see that, and I love that [Russell] says that. Of course, the issue is nuanced as well, and I think we can all accept that. It’s nuanced, but it just makes complete sense to me?’
Asked whether he thought he brought something to the role of Ritchie that a straight person couldn’t, the Years and Years singer suggested queer actors were able to connect more to the story, which, he believes, made for better storytelling.
He said: ‘We all clicked as a cast very quickly, and that’s not just because lots of us are queer, but that was a big part of it, because we all really connected to the story we’re telling very intimately… so I think it really worked in It’s A Sin, and, of course, no one else could have played the role as good as I did.’
Responding to straight commentators passing judgement on casting queer actors for queer roles, Russell recently said on Steph’s Packed Lunch that it wasn’t up to straight critics to make that kind of debate.
He told Steph McGovern: ‘I loved it when I said that because I made that theory about my own work, how I like to work. Strangely, all the straight male commentators lined up to tell me off.
‘Can you believe that, Steph? Straight men telling you how to live your life? What a puzzle that was. What a surprise! A marvel.’
‘It was debated a lot and actually then the programme went on air, and I’ve got to say the debates kind of stopped,’ he then added. ‘People could see what I meant.’
He went on: ‘There was an entirely gay and queer cast doing their stuff, and I think it shines off the programme. I think it rises off the screen, I think there’s an energy.
‘I absolutely believe it, it’s my job to believe these things. It’s my show. I think we did a great thing, and I’m so proud of that cast. Aren’t they good?’
Addressing Steph’s fear that Russell’s thoughts on gay actors playing gay roles could lead to queer stars being snubbed for straight parts, though, he disagreed, adding: ‘No, because it’s not equal. There’s 100 straight actors, there’s two gay actors. There’s 100 straight parts, there’s two gay parts.
‘So it’s not a seesaw, it’s not even. That seesaw is not moving, it’s stuck. It’s stuck in the straight weight. They own the playground so it will never happen.
‘And frankly, if you do get gay actors to play straight parts, we’ve been pretending to be straight since the age of 11.’
It’s A Sin is available on All4 now.
Credit: Original article published here.