Guy Pearce's Query on Trans Actors Doesn't Land Well

'Memento' star's question on who should be able to play what characters ignited a brouhaha
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2023 9:50 AM CDT
Guy Pearce's Query on Trans Actors Doesn't Land Well
Guy Pearce is seen during the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour on Aug. 6, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Guy Pearce was asking questions this week—including one that quickly got him into hot water with the transgender community. Deadline reports that on Monday, the Memento and LA Confidential star, who became famous for playing a drag queen in 1994's The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, decided to wade into the conversation on what actors should be able to play trans characters. "A question—if the only people allowed to play trans characters r trans folk, then r we also suggesting the only people trans folk can play r trans characters," Pearce asked in a since-scrubbed tweet. "Surely that will limit ur career as an actor? Isn't the point of an actor to be able play anyone outside ur own world." Pushback on Pearce's tweet was swift, with some commenters noting how few trans character roles exist, and that trans actors should get first dibs on them, per MovieMaker.

Pearce continued the debate by noting that that question of access to roles was a different one than his original query, in which he said he was trying to make the larger point about who was capable of playing whom. After thinking on it for a bit, Pearce eventually issued a lengthy apology online, noting that trying to have this kind of conversation on Twitter "was not a good idea." "It's clear a great many minor communities are underrepresented on screen and that so too are actors from those communities," he acknowledged, noting that "in many areas of life discrimination, which should have no place in a modern society unfortunately still thrives." He also conceded that his original question was "insensitive," and offered his "sincere apologies for crassly focusing on just one already harassed minority."

Pearce noted, however, he'd broached the question because ever since he'd been in Priscilla, people had asked if a gay actor should've been offered that role. He wrote that what he'd been trying to convey was a defense of "the definition of acting and nothing more." He then added: "I don't believe artists should have to announce their personal identity, sexual preference, political stance, disability, religious beliefs, etc. to attain work." He capped off his mea culpa by decrying the Hollywood industry as a "cesspool of politics ... nepotism, and favoritism." "None of this is straightforward," he wrote. "But I do believe the artistic community must discuss and develop this within itself, yes, even if that involves a little shouting." His full apology here. (More Guy Pearce stories.)

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