Disney Causes Controversy As It Casts Its First Openly Gay Character With A Straight Man

Photo: Greg Doherty/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images.
The news that Disney's upcoming film Jungle Cruise would feature its first openly gay character (after they featured a "gay moment" in Beauty And The Beast) was soured for fans when it was revealed that he would be played by straight actor Jack Whitehall. Whitehall, an English comedian who starred in series like Bad Education and Fresh Meat, posted news of his casting on Instagram.
"I’m so honoured to be part of this epic adventure - @disneysjunglecruise," he captioned a video announcement about the film. "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."
Jungle Cruise, an adaptation of the popular Disney ride, also stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Emily Blunt. A source confirmed to The Sun that Whitehall's character will be a "hugely effete, very camp and very funny" gay man, despite the fact that Whitehall himself is straight. This comes after Scarlett Johansson received online criticism for (and ultimately stepped away from) the role of a transgender man for the movie Rub & Tug. Now, fans are similarly taking to Twitter to express their concern over the Jungle Cruise casting decision. (Reps for Disney and Whitehall did not immediately return Refinery29's request for comment.)
"Such a dam shame it’s so hard to find gay actors to play gay roles in hollywood," wrote actor Chris Salvatore. "Do better @disney @jackwhitehall."
"It’s too bad there weren’t any out actors who are regularly called some euphemism for 'too camp' by casting directors, studios, networks, executives etc. for literally any role who were available for this Disney 'first,'" actor Emerson Collins wrote.
Fans have some other worries about the role, as well. One posted that, "The real issue with the Jack Whitehall casting looks like the fact (rumour has it) they've described the character as 'camp and funny', which could well be a stereotypical and even harmful portrayal played just for laughs, not the fact Jack is straight imo."
However, others don't understand the reaction.
"I don't like being told what I'm supposed to be outraged by cos I'm gay," one said. "Jack Whitehall is straight and is playing a gay guy, it's called acting. Brits have played American presidents. Gays have played straight people. There's only one thing that matters; if they do a good job."

More from Movies

R29 Original Series