Jungle Cruise, the upcoming film starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, will reportedly feature Disney’s first openly gay character. While that’s progress for sure, there is some criticism over the casting of the role.
On Sunday, a report in the U.K. tabloid the Sun said that the role British comedian and actor Jack Whitehall, 30, is playing in the movie based on Disneyland’s theme park ride and set in the 19th century is “a gay man — one who is hugely effete, very camp and very funny,” according to a source. “This latest script, set at a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable to be gay, is another significant turning point.”
And while it’s definitely a turning point, there’s criticism online over casting an actor in the role who isn’t gay.
— Omar Sharif Jr. (@OmarSharifJr) August 13, 2018
It’s not that it’s a problem to cast a fantastic straight ally to play a gay role, it’s that there are so many gay actors that are under represented in all sorts of roles across the board… and so I think that this is, fantastic, but also a bit sad 😔 #JungleCruise
— James Barr 🏳️🌈 (@imjamesbarr) August 13, 2018
Jack Whitehall playing gay for laughs is NOT the progress we need
— Hazza (@Clarkhf) August 12, 2018
— Chris Salvatore (@CSalvatore) August 12, 2018
— g (@eightlegsright) August 13, 2018
I’m actually devastated about the casting of @jackwhitehall in a “gay” role for @Disney. HIRE A GAY ACTOR! How is this happening STILL? I completely blame both parties and am disgusted and upset with both
— Samuel Billett (@TheErmintrude) August 13, 2018
Absolutely LOVE Jack Whitehall but could they seriously not pick someone actually gay? https://t.co/CclBS0KA8J
— Maria (@marialoizouu) August 13, 2018
Though many also wondered whether an actor’s sexual orientation should matter when it comes to casting a role.
Shock as actor is asked to play someone different from themselves. Isn’t that kind of the point? Wouldn’t always casting gay actors in gay roles be condemned for typecasting? https://t.co/tfni2m3B1P
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) August 13, 2018
Are you kidding? It’s “acting” – why does his sexuality matter???
— KERRIE COSH (@kjcoshy) August 13, 2018
Outrage that Jack Whitehall is playing a gay. Does this mean criminals have to be played by criminals?
— Adrian Emming (@Adezilla1) August 13, 2018
People complaining about Jack Whitehall being cast as Disney's first openly gay character 'despite being straight', is like complaining that Mike Myers isn't really an Ogre.
— Joel Cotterall (@Jjcotterall) August 13, 2018
If Scarlett Johansson wasn’t allowed to play a trans man then Jack Whitehall shouldn’t be allowed to play a gay man. Especially so when you consider there are absolute hundreds of out gay men in Hollywood who are better actors than him
— Sophie WilkINson (@sophwilkinson) August 13, 2018
I am so hoping this goes the way of Scarlet Johansson. 🤣
Decision to cast Jack Whitehall as Disney’s first gay character sparks debate https://t.co/vBdUyL978E
— Lionel (@JustLion34) August 13, 2018
And some compared the discussion to the debate over whether Idris Elba, who is black, should be cast as James Bond.
You agree with Idris Elba playing James Bond but don’t agree with Jack Whitehall playing a gay character 🤔
— DanJO🇮🇪 (@DjOMufc) August 13, 2018
To all the people worried about Idris Elba playing James Bond… it's no more worthy of outrage than Jack Whitehall playing a gay Disney character. It's all fantasy anyway!
— Sarah Vine (@WestminsterWAG) August 13, 2018
The people getting pissy about Jack Whitehall playing a gay character, our the same people who are pissed about Idris Elba possibly playing the first black James Bond, like ffs why is the world so sensitive nowadays.
— Gareth (@Kehnul) August 13, 2018
Meanwhile, Whitehall is settling into life on the set of a movie that, for better or worse, is making him a household name. He shared a video of the Rock on set and wrote that it is an honor to be part of the “epic adventure.” The self-professed “Disney nerd” said he’s having “the time of my life.”
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
A post shared by Jack Whitehall (@jackwhitehall) on Aug 9, 2018 at 2:42pm PDT
In 2017, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast featured what was considered the first “gay moment” in a Disney film when the character LeFou, played by Josh Gad, displayed “confused” feelings for leading man Gaston. However, it was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bit. This Jungle Cruise news comes just days after openly gay actress Ruby Rose made headlines for being cast as lesbian superhero Batwoman for the CW. That hasn’t been without drama either. She deleted her Twitter account over the weekend because of cruel remarks.
Reps for Whitehall and Disney have not yet responded to requests for comment.
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