Backlash against Disney casting decision
DISNEY is copping furious backlash for its decision to cast a British comedian and actor in its upcoming blockbuster Jungle Cruise.
Jack Whitehall has reportedly been picked to portray Disney's first openly gay character in the film, alongside big names Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Emily Blunt.
A source told The Sun that Whitehall's character would be "hugely effete, very camp and very funny" and confirmed: "He is playing a gay man."
But while the studio's decision to have an openly gay character in a blockbuster film has been hailed as a turning point, the decision to cast Whitehall, a straight man, to play him has sparked furore online.
Omar Sharif Jr, gay rights activist and son of the late Oscar-nominated Egyptian actor, asked Disney on Twitter: "Your first significant gay role will be played by a straight white man perpetuating stereotypes? Fail! This ship should sink."
Chris Salvatore, actor, singer and gay rights activist, called the decision a "damn shame" and urged Disney to "do better".
However, some came to Disney's defence, arguing that actors shouldn't be typecast.
"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?" British MP Wes Streeting tweeted.
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
But English TV presenter and radio personality James Barr pointed out the irony of how many openly gay actors are turned down for straight roles for being homosexual.
Whitehall, 30, who previously dated actress Gemma Chan, hasn't addressed the controversy but has taken to social media to say he is "honoured to be a part of this epic adventure".
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
Last year, Disney made headlines for their "exclusively gay moment" in Beauty and the Beast, when the character LeFou displayed "confused" feelings for leading man Gaston and then danced briefly with another man at the end of the film.
Jungle Cruise is set to hit cinemas in October next year.