Friday, May 22, 2009

The Bravest Actors in the World

As a gay man; an actor and a director, there is nothing more annoying to me than seeing straight actors play gay characters without an ounce of sincerity: Tom Hanks in Philadelphia; River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho; Chris Meloni on any given episode of "Oz." People say "He's so brave to do that!" "What a terrific performance!" "How did he do that?" But in the back of my mind, I'm always aware that the actors playing those parts are straight. How many gay actors playing straight roles are praised for being "brave?" Few, if any, I guarantee (and even fewer are even acknowledged at all, for doing so).

It's one of the many reasons I love the performances in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain. Not once did I question Heath Ledger's or Jake Gyllenhaal's sexuality. Especially in the scene where they meet at Ledger's apartment complex and kiss passionately in the shadows, hoping no one can see (we'll talk about Michelle Williams' stunning performance in this scene some other time).

The two actors playing Adam and Steve in my production of The Most Fabulous Story... are both straight. They are both terrific, personable and talented young men, and very good friends. One is even the Godfather to (and namesake of) the other's baby. And both of them trust me enough to go to the same places that Ledger and Gyllenhaal apparently went.

In preparation for the show, I have been conducting intimacy sessions with both of them, getting them used to touching and kissing each other and being sexually intimate together (without the actual sex, of course). And while they were both nervous and skeptical at first, they both have acknowledged that the sessions have helped them deal with and explore their sexualities in ways they might never have done. In addition, the sessions have helped establish their characters' relationship as something beyond sexual and will go a long way into making our audience believe that they share a very real, very strong love.

It is always a privilege to direct a JTMF show. It is made especially sweet by having two actors who are willing to set aside their own concepts of their sexuality in an effort to honestly portray a real and loving same-sex relationship.It is because of their unwavering trust in me and my vision for the show, that I nominate both of them as "The Bravest Actors in the World." And this is just my way of crowing about them. If I could marry both of them, I would.

Tickets for The JTMF production of Paul Rudnick's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told are available by visiting or calling the Kelsey Theatre box-office at 609-570-3333. 100% of our ticket sales benefit The Open Arms Foundation, which provides support and services for NJ residents living with HIV/AIDS and the James Tolin Memorial Scholarship at Mercer County Community College, which provides financial support for deserving Performance Arts majors at MCCC.

More, anon.



closet said...

River Phoenix wasn't straight.

Jake Gyllenhaal is gay.

Hollywood is full of closeted gay men.

Stephen R. said...

Their leap of faith is a tribute to your talent as a director and your kindness and warmth of spirit. So glad that things are going so well with THE MOST FABULOUS STORY EVER TOLD!

Prospero said...

Well, "closet," unless you have first-hand knowledge of River's and Jake's sexuality, you will never know and have no business talking about it. I know there are plenty of closeted gay actors in Hollywood. If I were one of them, i probably wouldn't be playing gay roles. Would you?

Stephen, you are too kind. I wish you could see the show. I'll take lots of pictures.

Stephen said...

Wow! Thanks for visiting my blog & leaving a comment. I appreciate it so much. Now you have two Stephen R.s in your life (both with shaved heads).
I really enjoy your blog. Good writing & interesting opinions.

I remember directing two straight (?) actors in The Shadow Box circa1978 & going through the same issues of how to seem familiar with each other & how to make the kiss believable. They were both beautiful men & it made an intersting experince for the 3 of us. One of those men eventually left his wife & married me.

I will be back. Best wishes from Portland!

Bloggora said...

Christopher Keller on OZ was a bi-sexual character.