The Celluloid Closet – Revisited

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Actor Luke Evans has already gone on the record about dating men and his appreciation of gay porn, but that’s not keeping him from starring in some of the most anticipated action flicks coming out of Hollywood in the next few years. The openly gay actor is bucking the usual trend of staying in the “celluloid closet” (not that he wouldn’t be in superstar company in there), and is instead being offered meaty roles in movies like The Hobbitt, Three Musketeers and Immortals.

Evans recently took part in the “geek meet” that is Comic-Con on a panel alongside fellow actors Henry Cavill and Kellan Lutz (you may know him from a little film franchise called Twilight) to promote Immortals (Evans plays the uber-hetero Zeus). Many in the industry are anticipating that the film – produced by the same folks responsible for 300 (a sleeper hit among many gays thanks to the endless parade of half-naked men) – will launch Evans into the big time. But gay audiences may have known all along – ever since he played straight in Taboo, the musical about Boy George that ran in London almost a decade ago – that he’s got serious acting chops.

But here’s where it gets a little complicated.

Just as the general public began taking notice of the hot, young British actor, he talked to The Advocate about coming out: “It was something I’d spoken to a lot of people about, including my boyfriend at the time – we’ve broken up now – but at the time when I just got Taboo, I knew that even though my part was a straight character, everybody knew me as a gay man and, in my life in London, I never tried to hide it.”

It doesn’t get more candid than that, right? But more recently, Evans – or his publicists – seem to be closing the door on discussions about his private life – at least that’s what several gay magazines and blogs are insinuating. That inspired the website AfterElton[1] to dig a little deeper to find out if the Hollywood PR machine is trying to back pedal a bit on Evan’s openness. The actor’s rep had this to say to AfterElton: “I do not comment on my client’s personal lives in the media. As for Luke, he did so once, a long time ago when he was an inexperienced, young actor and now with maturity and hindsight, he has learned not to engage the press in his personal life again.”

Seems fair enough. We could care less which team he plays for – his talents will undoubtedly speak volumes as he accelerates onto the A-list, but we are interested to see how Hollywood (and more mainstream audiences) respond to a gay man playing lead roles in what can pretty much be summed up as macho movies destined to attract the prized teen male ticket-buying demographic (the folks who can propel a flick into multi-million dollar profits in just one opening weekend).

If the box office is kind (as in millions of tickets, kind) then it could signal a new era for young gay and lesbian actors who may have thought it impossible to come out and still have a successful career outside the usual quirky gay indie flicks. Certainly Ian McKellen has proved as much, while others like Rupert Everett have said coming out is the worst thing to do to one’s career[2] (we’d argue his heavy duty plastic surgery may have done more damage than any of the flaccid roles he’s taken on in recent years).

As for Evans, the latest news has him dating…a woman[3]. Let’s hear it for the bisexuals? As we all know, sexuality can be complex. But let’s just hope he’s not being pushed back into the closet and onto the arm of a cute young female thing (a la Rock Hudson) because of a case of some serious PR jitters. Perhaps Hollywood needs to give audiences a bit more credit. If this guy can act and takes on films that have mass appeal, who really cares who he’s sleeping with?

Here’s a preview of Immortals:

Endnotes:
  1. AfterElton: http://www.afterelton.com/people/2011/08/luke-evans-in-or-out-gay-man
  2. coming out is the worst thing to do to one’s career: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1232588/Rupert-Everett-Coming-gay-actor-ruined-career-Hollywood.html
  3. dating…a woman: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1311230/KATIE-NICHOLL-Gwyneth-s-girl-Apple-Stella-s-eye.html#ixzz1U7T2xR6W

Source URL: https://www.phillymag.com/news/2011/08/09/hollywoods-openly-gay-star/