- Hanks believes that if “Philadelphia” (1993) came out today, he couldn’t play the lead role of a gay man.
- “I don’t think people would accept the inauthenticity,” Hanks told The New York Times Magazine.
- Hanks won his first Oscar for his performance in the movie.
Tom Hanks won his first-ever Oscar for his performance as a gay lawyer with AIDS in the acclaimed 1993 movie “Philadelphia.”
However, the actor said that if that movie were made today, a straight man couldn’t play the role.
“Let’s address ‘could a straight man do what I did in ‘Philadelphia’ now?'” Hanks asked during a recent interview with The New York Times Magazine.
“No, and rightly so. The whole point of ‘Philadelphia’ was don’t be afraid,” he said. “One of the reasons people weren’t afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man. We’re beyond that now, and I don’t think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy.”
“It’s not a crime, it’s not boohoo,” the actor added, “that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity.”
In recent years there has been a debate over whether straight actors should be cast in LGBTQ roles.Russell T. Davies, who created the TV series “Queer as Folk,” told The Times in January of last year that he believed only gay actors should pursue gay acting jobs.
“I’m not being woke about this . . . but I feel strongly that if I cast someone in a story, I am casting them to act as a lover or an enemy or someone on drugs or a criminal or a saint,” said Davies.
Davies added: “You wouldn’t cast someone able-bodied and put them in a wheelchair, you wouldn’t black someone up. Authenticity is leading us to joyous places.”
However, Neil Patrick Harris had a different take when asked shortly after Davies’ quotes were made public.
“I played a character for nine years who was nothing like me. I would definitely want to hire the best actor,” Harris added, referring to his role as Barney Stinson in “How I Met Your Mother.”
At the time when Hanks played the role in “Philadelphia,” he was shifting his career from a funny leading man to a serious actor.In the movie, Hanks plays lawyer Andrew Beckett, who files a wrongful dismissal suit against his firm after it fires him once it’s discovered he has HIV. Denzel Washington plays the lawyer who agrees to take on Beckett’s case.
Hanks would go on to win a second Oscar for 1994’s “Forrest Gump.”