Idris Elba came under fire last week for comments he made about straight actors taking on LGBTQ roles.
The “Luther” actor was asked by TimeOut London about Disney casting a straight male in the role of its first openly gay character in the upcoming movie Jungle Cruise. Last month, The Sun revealed that British comedian Jack Whitehall would be playing a gay man who is “hugely effete, very camp, and very funny” alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt.
There was immediate backlash online with many saying it was an opportunity for Disney to advance LGBT actors in the historic role.
But Elba didn’t find a problem with the casting, telling TimeOut London that it was all about “artistic license.”
“Artistic license is artistic license. If an actor has the attributes to do something, they should be able to do it,” he said. “They’re acting. You don’t necessarily have to be gay to play a gay character.”
He added: “Though you do have to be Black to play a Black character.”
Many took Elba’s words to task and called his statement hypocritical.
Did I miss the part of this story where Idris Elba came out as gay and can therefore speak to experience on this and how gay actors repeatedly get passed over for roles, or…? https://t.co/VL9VcSx8ON via @gaystarnews
— Brian Gray (aka ürb) (@urbanbohemian) August 28, 2018
It's important and necessary for black actors to be cast in roles written for black people, but gay roles should be up for grabs? Someone pass @idriselba the mustard for his pretzel logic.
— MixedUpMixerMan (@MixedUpMixerMan) August 31, 2018
Here’s the thing about Idris Elba saying Whitehall as a landmark gay doesn’t matter. If Bond is played by a black actor a door opens, which we imagine he approves of. While saying cast the best guy cos ‘It’s acting’ he fails to see the commitment to act for change is the same.
— Danny Lee Wynter (@dannyleewynter) August 31, 2018
at some point the media and people should not pretend that one oppressed minority can speak for another
just like most gay white men don't really know that much about the oppression of black gays, cis-het men like Idris Elba don't get to pretend to be the expert on gay men
— Monjula Ray (@queerBengali) August 29, 2018
Jungle Cruise is based on the Disney Parks attraction of the same name. The adventure film stars Johnson as a boat captain who takes a brother and sister, Whitehall and Blunt, into the jungle on an expedition to find a tree with magical healing powers.
The movie is scheduled to open in theaters on October 11, 2019.