It's A Sin's Nathaniel Curtis weighs in on straight actors playing LGBTQ roles debate

The 30-year-old actor says it all comes down to "respect".


Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Channel 4

It's A Sin star Nathanial Curtis has weighed on in the ongoing debate around straight actors playing LGBTQ roles.

The actor played Ash, the on-off boyfriend of Olly Alexander's Ritchie Tozer in the Russell T Davies drama, which explored the onslaught of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in '80s London.

In a new interview with Digital Spy, Curtis, 30 singled out the likes of Cate Blanchett in Carol and Tom Hanks in Philadelphia as examples of straight actors portraying gay characters with "respect."

"Not to say that, obviously, straight people can’t give beautiful performances"

Speaking about on-screen representation, Nathanial explained: "As someone who didn’t see a lot of himself represented on-screen – even until recently – it’s a conversation that I find myself having a fair bit.

"I find myself in the in-between, in that I’m of dual heritage. I’m Indian and I’m English, and I’m somewhere in between that. I have had relationships with women. I have had relationships with men. I identify as queer. I sit in that in-between as well."

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He later added: "When you think about Colin, who got fired for being gay; when you think of Ash, who was tortured at work for being gay; when you think about all the phone calls that Jill had to take from these men who were terrified about coming out to people…

"People who know what that’s really like are the ones to tell that story. Not to say that, obviously, straight people can’t give beautiful performances. You think about Carol, and Cate Blanchett with Rooney Mara and Timothée Chalamet and Tom Hanks in Philadelphia. All these beautiful people. But I think it’s the respect. Even if you were to have straight people play these roles, it has to be done with respect."

Nathanial's comments follow It's A Sin creator Russell T Davies saying in an interview with Radio Times in January: “I’m not being woke about this… But I feel strongly that if I cast someone in a story, I am casting them to act as a lover, or an enemy, or someone on drugs or a criminal or a saint… they are not there to ‘act gay’ because ‘acting gay’ is a bunch of codes for a performance.

"It’s about authenticity, the taste of 2020."

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