Did any of you see the controversial Newsweek article that criticized Sean Hayes’ performance in Promises, Promises, because he’s too gay to play a straight romantic lead? Hayes, who plays the flamboyantly gay Jack on Will & Grace, now plays a character on Broadway who is supposed to be madly in love with his co-worker, played by Kristin Chenoweth. But Newsweek wrote of his performance,
“Hayes is among Hollywood’s best verbal slapstickers, but his sexual orientation is part of who he is, and also part of his charm. (The fact that he came out of the closet only just before Promises was another one of those Ricky Martin ‘duh’ moments.) But frankly, it’s weird seeing Hayes play straight. He comes off as wooden and insincere, as if he’s trying to hide something, which of course he is.”
At this year’s Tony awards, Hayes took a shot back at Newsweek by passionately making out with his costar on stage:
While I think his response is pretty awesome and I feel bad that openly gay actors with extraordinary talent always get pigeonholed into gay or supporting roles, I have to admit: I understand where Newsweek is coming from. It’s not a particularly PC position to take, but it’s honestly difficult for me to believe a gay man in a straight romantic role, and it can really affect my experience of a film.
Part of the allure of watching a really hot actor and a really hot actress fall in love onscreen is the feeling you get that that the two actors might actually mean it, Brangelina or LiznDick Burton-style. Even if we know that Ben Affleck is married to Jennifer Garner, it is still easy to believe that he had genuine chemistry with Jennifer Aniston on the set of He’s Just Not That Into You, which is why I cried in that scene where he does her dishes.
The other part of the allure of a rom-com is the remote fantasy of that actor being into you. If Ben Affleck suddenly divorced Jennifer Garner and came out of the closet, I don’t think I could watch any of his movies again in the same way. Every time I saw him kiss a girl in a movie, I’d be thinking, He’s not even enjoying this. He probably wishes he was making out with Matt Damon. And that would ruin the movie for me.
I think there’s a good reason why, magically, NONE of the major players in Hollywood are openly gay. Cruise, Clooney, Pitt, Hanks, Travolta, Jackman, Damon, Affleck, Denzel– is it possible that all major movie actors are straight? No, it’s not. Some of these guys make a life choice to stay in the closet, probably pay women to marry them (ahemKatieHolmescoughcough) and pop out some kids to complete the effect, because otherwise they would not be billionaires. I’m sure some of them have boyfriends on the side to help them cope with a secretive, oppressive life in the closet, and I hate that it has to be that way. But it’s true– Clooney would not be Clooney if he went out partying every weekend in a pink tutu and angel wings.
Celebrities don’t get to have normal private lives, gay or straight or otherwise. That’s the price they pay for getting paid billions of dollars to have their makeup done and prance around on camera and act like someone else. I think that’s pretty fair, don’t you?