January 23rd, 2010
01:29 AM ET

James Franco’s take on actors coming out of the closet

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In a recent episode of "30 Rock" actor James Franco guest starred as himself.  Franco pretended to be a man in love with a pillow emblazoned with a Japanese anime character.  In order to keep his secret safe his manager asks series regular, Jane Krakowski, who plays "Jenna" to be his "beard" aka fake girlfriend.

The storyline got me thinking.  I wonder how many actors out there are hiding their true sexual identity by being in pretend relationships. As luck would have it, my first red carpet assignment at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival was for the movie "Howl," starring James Franco.  It was the perfect opportunity to ask Franco about his take on actors coming out in Hollywood.

Franco: "Well, it's uuuuuuuuh, I mean, it's a big issue.  I don't know, I mean..(wipes head with palm and lets out a huge sigh)  You know, I guess if you're talking about you know, like, coming out about one's sexuality, you know, back in the day, in Harvey Milk's day the gay liberation movement was all about coming out, coming out, coming out.  I don't know if that's so necessary today.  You know, a lot of people believe it isn't.  

"If you want to come out, you know, if someone would want to come out I, I believe that he or she should be able to.  We see more gay roles in mainstream films, but the reverse isn't true.  It's like, okay now for straight actors to play gay roles, but, it's not quite, I don't think it's quite the same for gay actors to play straight roles.  And so that's, maybe, what inhibits a lot of people who are in the closet from coming out.  If we're talking about, you know being gay. If you're talking about body pillows?  Come out!  I don't think anybody will care. (laughter)"

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Edward M

    Its the hardest thing in the world to do and being honest to one's self first takes a lot of soul searching and coming to terms with how you truly feel. But there is more to consider than just the public stigma of being gay, do not forget about one's family and friends whose opinion on the matter ways heavily against someone's choice to come forward or remain hidden behind the mask. So for some actors it is a role they will play for a long time to come. So for me personally it doesn't matter if you are or not (I am) just remember to always just be you for you.

    January 25, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Beagle

    The actors Debra R. mentions were all closeted to the extent that they faked relationships and had them publicized to pass as straight. None were out, so her argument is ludicrous.

    And Neil Patrick Harris is playing such a stereotype/buffoon. His character is so over the top that he can play straight because of it. But do you think he'll EVER play a romantic straight character in a drama that people accept as readily? I highly doubt it. He is not about to become a romantic leading man. Not a chance.

    January 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kim H

    Neil Patrick Harris is gay. He came out. And he plays one of the biggest womanizers out there on HIMYM. I think that he easily is breaking down the barrier.

    January 25, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Marc

    Debra R – every time a heterosexual couple holds hands, snuggles, or even kisses in public, it is a big "straight is great" statement, especially as no one tends to pay any attention to it at all when it occurs. For many glbtq people, especially youth who are struggling with how to be themselves in a world where they are looked down upon, that's really painful – because they know if they and their partner were to hold hands/snuggle/kiss, they would be opening themselves up to looks, taunts, threats, and/or even violence.

    As Timica said, read Rupert Everett's comments, but also – take an actor like Nathan Lane, who is openly gay – some might say flamingly so. Could he ever get cast as a straight romantic lead? I doubt it, his reputation and the public's perception of him is such that he wouldn't even get an audition because producers/executives wouldn't think audiences would give him a chance to prove his acting ability.

    January 25, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Timica C

    James is right. I recently read an article from Rupert Everett and he said that coming out was the worst possible thing he did. He is no longer getting any role offers.

    January 25, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jocelyn K

    James Franco in love with a body pillow?! Tina Fey, you are a genius! Too funny!

    January 23, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Debra R

    Maybe it's no one's business what your sexual orientation is. I mean you don't see people holding parades with banners saying "I am a flaming hetoersexual" or "straight is great"....

    Franco, are you kidding me? Homesexuals portraying heterosexuals.....Raymond Burr, Rock Hudson, Greta Garbo, all the way to Jim Parsons and Ellen Degenerous....

    really, tired of the whole thing....as long as you are consenting adults do what you want in the privacy of your bedroom...

    January 23, 2010 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |

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