Spider-Man: No Way Home actor Andrew Garfield thinks the woke trend in Hollywood, that actors can only be cast as a minority if they are actually that minority in real life, is absurd. Of course we’re not talking about a white man playing a black man or vice versa, because that would be impractical, but why can’t a gay man can play a straight man if he’s able to?
It is called acting after all.
Garfield made this point during an interview with The Telegraph earlier this week, saying that it will be the “death” of acting if casting is done based on whether an actor’s real identity fits the role they're trying for.
Garfield began his point with his opinion that the debate on this topic is due to “two different conversations getting conflated.” “One is about equality of opportunity, and I’m completely in on that. Because we should want a world in which no matter your sexual orientation, your colour or your heritage, everyone gets a fair whack,” he added.
He sounds like a conservative there. We are all about equal opportunity; no matter your identity, it doesn’t rule you out of your pursuit of happiness. That is why actors should be cast in roles they don’t necessarily mirror in real life. If they can excel at a job that’s inherently about playing pretend, then they’ve met the qualifications.
That’s what Garfield believes too. He added, “But the other is about empathic imagination, and if we only allow people to be cast as exactly who they are, it’ll be the death of it.”
Imagine if Forrest Gump was made today and they had to forgo Tom Hanks because he has a much higher IQ in real life than the character.
Garfield continued: “So the two separate conversations have to happen simultaneously. Because I’m not willing to support the death of empathic imagination.” Well that’s what we’d argue for. Since the job is acting, whereby one person pretends to be someone they’re not, we shouldn’t kill ourselves to find a real life NASA rocket scientist to play one on TV.
Again, should we cancel Robert Downey Jr. because he’s not as smart or tech savvy as his onscreen Iron Man counterpart? And does a straight man necessarily have to play a straight man only? For the left, oftentimes yes.
But gay British actor Ian McKellan recently wondered if that kind of casting purity is the case, is someone going to really tell him he can’t play straight people? “Is the argument that a straight man cannot play a gay part, and, if so, does that mean I can’t play straight parts and I’m not allowed to explore the fascinating subject of heterosexuality in Macbeth?”
Fine, take McKellan out of Macbeth (a role he excelled in). Are you going to really have as good of a product without the man who played Gandalf? McKellan asked, “We’re acting. We’re pretending.”
Of course there are exceptions. You wouldn’t put a black actor in the role of a historical white person, because that’s an unbelievable portrayal. You wouldn’t believe that game of pretend. Same for a girl playing a role that’s always been a man. (On the other hand, young men used to play Shakespeare's female characters.) But at least these actors admit the standards can’t be perfectly rigid the way some Hollywood wokesters want it.