Kristen Stewart Says Only Having Gay Actors Play Gay Characters Is a “Slippery Slope”
She says creatives need to have the right intention behind "helping each other tell stories."
As the star of Hulu’s upcoming gay-couple-led holiday romcom, Happiest Season, Kristen Stewart (who plays Abby) has been thinking a lot about the idea of gay actors being the only ones to play gay characters. In a November 23rd interview with Variety, Stewart says this notion is a “slippery slope” of sorts, and one that even she, herself, has a hard time finding footing on.
“I think about this all the time,” she said, later acknowledging that she doesn’t have “a sure-shot answer” as to whether she agrees or disagrees. “Being somebody who has had so much access to work, I’ve just lived with such a creative abundance. You know, a young white girl who was straight and only really was gay later…I so acknowledge that I’ve just gotten to work.”
However, Stewart says that she would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who’s lived that experience.
“Having said that,” she continued, “it’s a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I’m going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law.”
Stewart says the idea of ‘only gay actors should play gay characters’ exists in a “gray area,” saying, “There are ways for men to tell women’s stories, or ways for women to tell men’s stories. But we need to have our finger on the pulse and actually have to care. You kind of know where you’re allowed.”
“If you’re telling a story about a community and they’re not welcoming to you, then fuck off,” she said. “But if they are, and you’re becoming an ally and a part of it and there’s something that drove you there in the first place that makes you uniquely endowed with a perspective that might be worthwhile, there’s nothing wrong with learning about each other. And therefore helping each other tell stories.”
Stewart uses her Happiest Season costar, Mackenzie Davis, as an example. Though Davis doesn’t identify as a lesbian, Stewart says that Davis was the only actress she had in mind to play Abby’s girlfriend Harper in the film.
“Sometimes, artfully speaking, you’re just drawn to a certain group of people,” Stewart told Variety. “I could defend that, but I’m sure that somebody with a different perspective could make me feel bad about that—and then make me renege on everything I’ve just said.”
Again, she called out the slippery-slope aspect saying, I acknowledge the world that we live in. And I absolutely would never want to traipse on someone else’s opportunity to do that—I would feel terrible about that.
Her TLDR answer was: “fucking think about what you’re doing! And don’t be an asshole.” And we can definitely get behind that.