entertainment

Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey wants to see more gay actors in gay roles

"There is a narrative that's very clear, that openly gay men aren't playing straight in leading roles."

2020-12-23

Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey has given his opinion on the ongoing debate around TV and film casting and sexuality, admitting he'd like to see more gay actors in gay roles. 

The British stage and screen star, who is set for his biggest role to date as straight eldest son Anthony Bridgerton in the glossy new Netflix period drama from Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rimes, told DigitalSpy that while all roles should be open to all actors, there is evidence of a structural industry bias against gay men playing straight leading roles that needs to be addressed.

"I think it shouldn't matter at all what character people play, but of course there is a narrative that's very clear, that openly gay men aren't playing straight in leading roles," said Bailey. 

Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton in Netflix's 'Bridgerton'

"And also, there's a reason why gay characters are so interesting. Because much like the women in Bridgerton, there are a lot of hurdles and there's a lot of self-growth, and there's a real strength to gay men."

The 32-year-old continued: "So the fact that a lot of straight men have gone on to play iconic gay roles and to be lauded for that is fantastic, that that story is being told.

"But wouldn't it be brilliant to see gay men play their own experience?"

Speaking to Attitude last year, Jonny, who has played gay characters in Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Channel 4 comedy Crashing and in the West End revival of Crashing (for which he won and Olivier Award), declared it was a "revolutionary time" for LGBTQ representation on the small screen.

Photography: Markus Bidaux

"I grew up with storylines on Casualty where gay men were dying of Aids, and even mainstream comedies into the noughties - things like Catherine Tate's comedies - I just remember watching it with my family and that was a constant reminder that it was 'other' and it was either 'hilarious' or something not to be dealt with empathetically or sensitively", said Jonny at the time.

"It's really interesting now to see things like Sex Education on Netflix: I've been watching that and I think it's f**king amazing. It's a revolutionary time."

Based on Julia Quinn's best-selling novels and starring Adjoa Andoh and Dame Julie Andrews, Bridgerton is set to arrive on the streaming service on Christmas Day. Check out the first teaser trailer below: