66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Press Room
Credit: Getty Images / Paul Archuleta

Hollywood has a long, problematic history of casting actors as characters who do not match their identities. Lately, many films have been rightfully criticized for casting choices which placed white actors in roles playing people of color. Furthermore, the entertainment industry’s overall lack of diversity has caused many to question Hollywood’s motives.

Most recently, the Mark Ruffalo-produced film, Anything cast Matt Bomer, a cisgender man, in the role of a transgender woman.

Anything, based on the Tim McNeil play by the same name, centers around a trans sex worker, played by Bomer, who forms an unlikely friendship with a suicidal widower (John Carroll Lynch) in Mississippi.

The internet and the LGBTQ community was confused by the choice, and questioned the casting misstep.

Award-winning trans poet, Mya Byrne, even posted an open letter to Ruffalo and Bomer to ask why this decision was made.

“There are many qualified trans actors and writers who could have played in and advised on the construction of the scenes you’re about to edit into a motion picture. They will lose more work because of this,” Byrne wrote.

Yet to his credit, Executive Producer Ruffalo, faced the comments head on, and offered his POV.

Mark also explained that his casting decision came after witnessing Bomer’s award-winning talent in The Normal Heart. The two played lovers in last year’s HBO film about an HIV/AIDS activist.

By opening a dialogue with fans, Mark expressed his empathy and compassion for the struggle trans people face. Unfortunately, the backlash may have come too late. When fans called for re-casting, Mark expressed regret that the film had already been shot.

It takes a big person to admit they are still learning, and for that we salute you, Mark Ruffalo! In the meantime, let’s not forget about Mark’s other commitments to making the world a better place: this year, he campaigned for Bernie Sanders and he’s a longtime advocate for feminism.