Rebel Wilson OK with straight actors in gay roles: ‘Play any role’

Rebel Wilson is in favor of actors taking on roles that speak to them — including straight stars who want to portray LGBTQ+ characters.

“I think you should be able to play any role that you want,” the “Pitch Perfect” and “Bridesmaids” star said in a recent interview. “I always think, in comedy, your job is to always flirt with that line of what’s acceptable.”

Wilson shared her two cents about onscreen representation and the limits of her irreverent humor with the BBC podcast “Desert Island Discs” in an episode published Sunday. The Australian star, 44, told host Lauren Laverne that she feels comedians are allowed to make jokes only based on their personal experiences.

“It’s more this thing about… if you are something, then now you’re allowed to joke about it,” she said. “So say, if you are overweight, you can say jokes… that’s kind of what’s currently happening.”

She added that those limitations to comedy can veer into similar “territory” of having straight actors play only straight characters and LGBTQ+ stars taking on LGBTQ+ roles, “which I think is total nonsense.” Wilson came out as gay in 2022 and is engaged to jewelry designer Ramona Agruma.

In recent years, TV and film studios have produced several projects spotlighting LGBTQ+ stories — ranging from FX’s “Pose” to Netflix’s “Rustin.” However, questions about authentic casting persist as straight stars continue to lead queer stories. Earlier this month, actor Nicholas Galitzine told GQ that he felt guilty about “whether I’m taking up someone’s space” as a straight actor playing gay men in projects, including the gay romance film, “Red, White & Royal Blue.”

“Devil Wears Prada” star Stanley Tucci — who is straight — spoke with “Desert Island Discs” last year about the same topic, noting that straight actors can play gay characters if it’s done “the right way.”

Wilson said in her interview that, ultimately, it’s all about entertainment. “People… won’t be entertained if people are just always being safe and protective,” she said.

She added: “You’re not gonna get good comedy from that.”

The comedian’s candid hour-long interview was published a month after she released her “Rebel Rising” memoir, in which she accused actor Sacha Baron Cohen of misconduct on the set of their 2016 film “The Brothers Grimsby.” For the BBC podcast, Wilson said working with Cohen was the “worst professional experience.” She added that she felt “humiliated” and “degraded” on set and that she feels better after going public with her allegations.

“If it could help a few people out there, then it’s worth it,” she said.

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