It’s Called Acting, My Dear Boy


Bros Actor Guy Branum Blasts The Whale and Brendan Fraser’s

Guy Branum, Brendan Fraser

In which a couple of fat gay actors complain that Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming move The Whale casts Brendan Fraser, who is not gay or especially fat, as a 600-pound gay man.

“Who knows more about being an obese queer man than an obese queer man?” asks Daniel Franzese, an obese queer man.

This reminds me of a story (which admittedly Dustin Hoffman has said is not quite accurate) about Marathon Man, in which Hoffman starred with Laurence Olivier. Hoffman showed up one day having not slept the night before so he could shoot a scene in which his character had not slept the night before.

Olivier thought it was absurd. “It’s called acting, my dear boy,” he said.

Olivier in that movie played a cold-blooded Nazi killer, that is, a cold-blooded Nazi who killed people, not a cold-blooded killer of Nazis. Since Olivier was not in fact a cold-blooded Nazi killer, wouldn’t it have been better to cast an actual cold-blooded Nazi killer? Who knows more about being a cold-blooded Nazi killer than a cold-blooded Nazi killer?

OK, that’s a little extreme. Try this one: Philadelphia was a pretty good movie even though everyone knows Tom Hanks and Antonio Banderas are not gay. Brokeback Mountain, Midnight Cowboy, Moonlight . . . as far as I know, none of the gay lead characters was played by an actual gay person.

Hasn’t Meryl Streep played a lesbian in at least a couple of movies (Manhattan, The Hours)? Meryl Streep is not gay. Conversely, that Doogie Howser kid is gay and he plays straight roles.

I suppose what I’m getting at here is that you don’t have to be X to play an X character. It’s called acting, my dear boy.

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