Guy Pearce has apologized for a tweet and follow-ups in which he argued that non-trans actors should be able to play trans characters.
“A question — if the only people allowed to play trans characters r trans folk, then r we also suggesting the only people trans folk can play r trans characters? Surely that will limit ur career as an actor? Isn’t the point of an actor to be able play anyone outside ur own world?” he tweeted Monday.
On Tuesday night, he deleted the tweet and wrote: “I posted a tweet yesterday that I shouldn’t have, which to prevent upsetting anyone else I have now deleted. A fuller apology and explanation of the point I was raising is attached xx Guy.” In an attached doc (printed in its entirety below), he elaborated.
Guy Pearce Regrets Addressing a ‘Complex and Sensitive’ Subject on Twitter
“I see that raising the question of gender identity within the casting process on a platform like Twitter was not a good idea. For that, I apologize, enormously. I acknowledge it has only stirred up and inflamed attitudes and made us all dig our heels in. I take responsibility for that and again, apologize for starting a fire.”
He also opined Tuesday that the subject he raised in his initial tweet was “complex and sensitive” and should best be discussed “face to face, person to person and over a good amount of time where we are all heard and understood.”
“I understand how my question — asking ‘If trans actors are the only ones allowed to play trans roles then are we also suggesting trans actors are therefore only allowed to play trans characters?’ is insensitive,” the Memento star wrote.
The Australian actor added: “The point I wanted to raise was one about defending the definition of acting and nothing more. Throwing the subject onto one minority group in particular was unnecessary, especially from a man like me, with a ‘Full House’ of privilege. I’m in no position to complain about fairness, at least on my own behalf.”
Priscilla in Context
Pearce played a gay drag performer in his breakout film, 1994’s Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and said he has thought a lot about who should be allowed to perform a given role because he is often asked if gay actors should have been given the leads in Priscilla.
At the time Priscilla was released, it was lauded as one of the few films of its era to feature positive portrayals of gay characters and a transgender woman. It even won a GLAAD award. (Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving played drag performers, while Terence Stamp played a trans woman who rounded out their musical trio.)
The film was released at a time when few major actors were out, positive LGBTQ+ portrayals in films were fairly rare, and the debate about whether an actors could play members of a community to which they did not belong was nearly nonexistent.
Guy Pearce has also said that some gay fans have told him Priscilla gave them the courage to come out.
Pearce’s initial tweets Monday raised eyebrows because so few Hollywood A-listers have ventured lately to argue that cis actors should feel free to play trans roles.
Hollywood actors who have recently played or considered playing trans actors have received vocal criticism from trans activists and others who say trans roles are so rare that trans actors should be given every opportunity to play them.
In 2018, for example, Scarlett Johansson dropped plans to play a transgender man in a film called Rub & Tug, after an uproar on social media. As of 2020, the project was being reimagined as a TV series by transgender writer-producer Our Lady J, a veteran of Pose, which features many transgender actors in its cast, as well as transgender writers and producers.
More recently, Eddie Redmayne has said he regrets playing a transgender woman in The Danish Girl, for which he received an Oscar nomination.
Pearce is currently playing British-Soviet double agent Kim Philby in the limited series A Spy Among Friends. He is best known for his roles in L.A. Confidential and Memento, and more recently for a role as Kate Winslet’s love interest in the HBO hit Mare of Eastown.
The Complete Guy Pearce Apology
Here is the full statement Monday night from Guy Pearce, apologizing for his statements Monday.
Main image: Guy Pearce attends the Genius press conference during the 66th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin in Berlin, Germany. Courtesy of Shutterstock.