It’s no secret that Marvel hasn’t been particularly inclusive when it comes to narrative representation. Yes, it’s made some strides with Black Panther and the upcoming Captain Marvel by presenting, for the first time, lead characters who are not white and male, respectively. But there’s still room to grow—particularly, as Kit Harington points out, when it comes to queer-inclusive casting.
In an interview with Variety at the Toronto Film Festival, the Game Of Thrones actor expressed his frustration with Hollywood’s refusal to cast queer male actors in masculine roles.
“There’s a big problem with masculinity and homosexuality that they can’t somehow go hand in hand,” Harington said. “That we can’t have someone in a Marvel movie who’s gay in real life and plays some superhero. I mean, when is that going to happen?”
Harington was joined by The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan co-stars Emily Hampshire and Thandie Newton and director Xavier Dolan, who were all quick to offer their agreement. Dolan added that even in the rare cases where superhero franchises have cast queer actors—think Ezra Miller as The Flash or Ian McKellen as Magneto—the characters were often criticized for not being masculine enough—or rather, for being “too gay.”
Newton noted that Hollywood is even a few steps behind the sports industry in promoting inclusion. She remarked on how in recent years, athletes have been able to embrace their identities without compromising their careers.
“It is changing, but we have to get behind those changes and keep pushing it,” she said.
Dolan, who himself is openly gay, also acknowledged some positive changes in the entertainment industry that have happened since he began writing The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan just a few years ago—namely, that so many queer entertainers have been able to come out over social media. But although social media has helped actors and actresses come out, Dolan says, and although progress is being made in terms of self-acceptance, Hollywood hasn’t kept up with those changes.
According to Dolan, queer actors fully anticipate the damage that coming out can have on their career, that they might not land the same kinds of roles they would have had they stayed in the closet.
“They free themselves [by coming out],” Dolan says. “But most of the time… they say, ‘I’m now free, but I also know that I’m not going to get the career that I once wanted…. I’m at peace with that, because at least I can be who I am.’”
The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan, which premiered at this year’s TIFF, follows the story of a reporter who exposes the exchange of letters between a male TV star and an 11-year-old boy and who, ten years later, thinks back on the damage she caused to their lives.