'Doctor Who' writer Russell T Davies believes only gay actors should play gay characters

Albertina Lloyd
·Entertainment reporter, Yahoo UK
·2-min read
Russell T Davies at the 2019 Edinburgh TV Festival. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
Russell T Davies believes only gay actors should play gay characters. (Getty Images)

Russell T Davies has said he believes only gay actors should play gay characters.

The former Doctor Who writer has said he only cast gay actors in his new channel 4 drama It's A Sin following the story of three young men in London in 1981 at the beginning of the HIV epidemic.

Davies told Radio Times: “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.

Neil Patrick Harris in 'It's A Sin'. (Channel 4)
Neil Patrick Harris in It's A Sin. (Channel 4)

“They are not there to ‘act gay’ because ‘acting gay’ is a bunch of codes for a performance.

“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.”

The cast of It’s A Sin includes Olly Alexander, Neil Patrick Harris, and Stephen Fry.

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TV writer Davies, 57, rose to prominence with Channel 4 series Queer As Folk in 1999, about the lives of gay men in Manchester - starring straight actors Charlie Hunnam, Aidan Gillen and Craig Kelly.

His drama for the BBC, A Very English Scandal, starred Hugh Grant in the lead role as gay politician Jeremy Thorpe.

Actors (L-R) Charlie Hunnam, Craig Kelly, Antony Cotton and Denise Black, at the launch of the controversial Channel 4 series, 'Queer as Folk 2'.
Queer As Folk starred Charlie Hunnam, Craig Kelly, Antony Cotton and Denise Black. (PA)

And his 2015 series for Channel 4 Cucumber starred straight actor Vincent Franklin as a gay man.

The debate about straight actors playing gay roles was most recently reignited with the release of Ryan Murphy’s Netflix musical The Promfeaturing James Corden as a gay Broadway actor.

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Other films to have been criticised for casting straight actors in gay roles include Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain, Cate Blanchett in Carol, Sean Penn in Milk and Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name, all of which were critically acclaimed and received awards recognition.

Stephen Fry had surgery for prostate cancer in February this year. (PA Images)
Stephen Fry appears in new Channel 4 drama It's A Sin. (PA Images)

Davies revealed that he and Stephen Fry shared memories about the friends they lost during the HIV epidemic, while working together on the set of It’s A Sin.

He said: “We had amazing chats off-stage. We’d sit and have a coffee and talk about the friends we lost, all of the funerals we’d been to, all of the lies that were told, and all of the people who survived.”

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