The casting of Jack Whitehall as Disney's first gay man sparks controversy
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Image courtesy of GettyWhitehall posted his announcement via Instagram, expressing that he was "So honoured to be part of this epic adventure". Even with this enthusiasm, people across the world have critised the casting of Whitehall, with suggestions that a straight man playing an LGBTQ+ role evokes sterotypes, encourages caricatures, and cannot be an accurate representation of the community.
Actor and activist Omar Sharif tweeted, "Really @Disney #junglecruise? Your first significant gay role will be played by a straight white man perpetuating stereotypes? Fail!" He continued with this open letter detailing his views on the subject:
I’m so honoured to be part of this epic adventure - @disneysjunglecruise. Filming is underway and I am having the time of my life with my amazing co stars. It’s so cool to be part of something of this scale and also as possibly one of the biggest Disney nerds on the planet so exciting to be working on a project with this much history. Watch to the end of this video and see the most incredible set I’ve ever seen. They built it from the ground up and walking onto it for the first time a month ago was like stepping back in time. Can’t wait for you to see this film... #junglecruise
The film, Jungle Cruise is based on the Disney ride of the same name, and is set to release in October 2019. Alongside Whitehall, Emily Blunt and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson also star. The casting backlash is similar to that against Scarlett Johansson, who was set to star as a trans man but has since stepped down. Ed Skrein was praised recently for stepping down from his Hellboy role when learning that his casting whitewashed an Asian character. Time will tell what Whitehall's reaction will be, but it's certainly an important conversation for Hollywood to have.
Open Letter - “So... pic.twitter.com/JY4EzowtQr— Omar Sharif Jr. (@OmarSharifJr) August 14, 2018