Actresses Hilary Swank has weighed in on her thoughts on the on-going debate as to whether straight performers have a right to take on roles representing the LGBTQ+ community. Recent stories such as Scarlett Johansson’s casting in the role of Dante “Tex” Gill, who identified as a trans man, in an upcoming movie caused a social media backlash. Johansson eventually pulled out of the film.
In an interview with The Guardian’s G2 about the debate, Hilary Swank said: “I was honoured to be a part of the beginning of an important conversation. The community means a great deal to me.”
We all have the underlying sameness of wanting to be loved; to give love, to receive love. We all experience pain. It might be from different circumstances, but the pain is the same.
In reference to her performance of transgender teen Brandon Teena in the 1993 film ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, of which she won an Oscar for, Swank revealed that there were some people who felt she shouldn’t have taken the role. However, she said: “At the time, the whole community was grateful that I did it because they said, had it been someone who was from this experience, people would have said: ‘Oh, you’re just telling your personal story.'”
Adding that the climate was different for LGBTQ+ representation back then as opposed to now, Swank added: “What’s hard is that not everyone is given an opportunity, and that’s where I think the struggle is.
The important thing to remember is people are wanting to be seen for who they are. And people are fighting for their space in the world – that I understand. But I do think it can be a slippery slope because I don’t think anyone should be pigeonholed.
“And I do think that all genders should have an opportunity to be an actor and tell their stories. And I think that all genders should have the opportunity to audition for all types of roles.”
This year will mark the 25th anniversary of Brendon Teena’s death. When asked about whether she felt trans rights had improved since then, she said: “I don’t know how we define better.
“Expanding awareness is definitely growth. We have a long way to go still.”
Hilary Swank will next be seen in ‘What They Had’, alongside Michael Shannon and Taissa Farmiga.