Disney’s now somewhat unfortunately named Jungle Cruise has hit the rocks right out of the gate. The reason? Casting a straight actor and comedian in a role described by The Sun as “hugely effete, very camp and very funny.” Word is that this individual is going to be Disney’s first openly gay character, which is news to me as I distinctly remember them saying the exact same thing about LeFou in last year’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.
Casting a straight actor in a prominently gay role has, entirely foreseeably, kicked up an enormous stink online. Commentators have quite reasonably pointed out that there are a number of talented LGBTQ actors in Hollywood that are hungry for roles and casting a straight actor in the part runs the risk of being offensive. Particularly as the role’s apparently very camp.
There was an instant backlash against that backlash, too, with still more commentators arguing that it’s the job of actors to pretend to be people that they’re not and a casting director shouldn’t have to only consider actors for the part who share things in common with the fictional role.
Here’s a couple of tweets showing some of the online indignation:
— Omar Sharif Jr. (@OmarSharifJr) August 13, 2018
If only there were gay actors who could play ‘camp’ as well as Jack Whitehall. https://t.co/GM3VQjOhUx
— Ethan Harvey (@ethanharv) August 12, 2018
— Chris Salvatore (@CSalvatore) August 12, 2018
The whole thing is reminiscent of last month’s controversy about Scarlett Johansson playing a trans man, which eventually resulted in her leaving the role. Given how fearful Disney are of negative press, I wouldn’t put it past them to apologetically recast the role in Jungle Cruise over the next couple of weeks.
For those who don’t know, the movie’s an adaptation of a Disney theme park ride about a boat captain played by Dwayne Johnson who’s on the hunt for a magic tree, presumably in the jungle. And it’s currently set to sail into theaters on October 11th, 2019.