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‘Love, Simon’ star Nick Robinson weighs in on straight actors playing gay roles: ‘It was a concern of mine’

Nick Robinson, the title character in the new gay0themed romantic comedy Love, Simon, has done a Q&A with GQ and is asked about straight actors taking on gay roles. Robinson is straight but the film also features an out actor in a gay role (Keiynan Lonsdale) and an openly gay actor (Joey Pollari) playing a straight character. Q. There is an argument in certain circles that gay actors should be playing gay roles. Was there any hesitance on your part of taking up the role because of this?
A. It’s a valid question and it was a concern of mine. Initially I thought that maybe making this movie was not my place. But in speaking with Greg, he was very adamant that I was right for this role, so I just had to trust in him and believe in his vision. I think that now is a better time than ever to be not just playing a gay part, but just in general to be playing parts that are outside of your experience or comfort zone. I know it didn’t have bad intentions at all. I really just had to trust in Greg’s vision for this thing based off of his experience and what he had to say.

Q. It is a nuanced conversation because it’s not necessarily a bad thing for straight identifying actors to play gay roles. To believe that is, in my opinion, silly.
A. Right, and I would agree. It’s sort of what acting is, right? There’s a quote somewhere that’s like, “Acting is like stepping into someone else’s shoes without suffering the consequences,” and that’s both a good and bad thing. But I think that it breeds empathy and understanding. It could be said for exactly the opposite. Why can’t queer identifying actors play straight parts? It’s a character; it’s not a reflection of the person. I think representation is a powerful thing, and I can understand people wanting to be represented on screen by people that they feel represent them in real life.

So I put my faith in Greg and did a Hail Mary. And from what we’ve seen it appears that people are really responding to this story, and I think that this movie and these characters actually take on a life of their own outside of whoever plays them. I think that Simon is now his own thing; I play him, but I think people can put what they want on to him and that’s okay. That’s the point, that people can see something of themselves in Simon, regardless of their sexuality. That’s the important thing.

FILE UNDER: Actors/Actresses

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