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Tom Hollander speaks on playing gay characters & his own sexuality

Tom Hollander speaks on playing gay characters & his own sexuality

White Lotus quentin Tom Hollander
HBO/WarnerMedia

He'll be playing writer Truman Capote in the upcoming season of Feud: Capote vs. The Swans.

We all loved Tom Hollander playing a murderous gay vacationer in The White Lotus, and the 56-year-old actor will once again play gay as famous writer Truman Capote in the upcoming Feud: Capote vs. The Swans.

Hollander spoke with Vanity Fair about the roles and what it’s like for him to be regularly cast as a gay man.

When asked about the current conversation around the importance of queer actors playing queer roles, Hollander mentioned that he’s done it many times.

“People keep asking me to do it because apparently when I play these characters, it’s believable. And that’s in a way, where my job begins and ends,” he said. “If people don’t believe it when they watch you, it's the most difficult thing in the world, if it doesn’t work. If it works, then it works. For some reason, who I am, who I am as a person allows me to present as gay. Yeah, sometimes I do present as gay. I mean, I always did, so—”

The interviewer then clarified if he meant in his personal life.

“As a person? I do, yeah,” he answered. “I’m somebody that walks into a room and there are some people who walk into the room, you go, ‘Well, they’re not gay,’ and ‘They are gay.’ My own sexuality is sufficiently liberal to have encompassed many different experiences, which are not anyone’s business.”

“I certainly have not lived the life that gay men used to have to live. I have not lived that difficulty. I have not had to live in the shadows and been under the threat of going to jail for expressing my sexuality,” he continued. “As an actor, you have to be able to imagine something and do it with seriousness and take it seriously, approach with a sufficient sort of solemnity and plausibility, and then you imaginatively put yourself into those shoes. That’s what it is. I mean, it’s true of playing any part. You are rarely playing yourself. You are always pretending to be something that you are not. That's on the tin of being an actor.”

Hollander also added that it is important for actors who have traditionally been marginalized in the business to get chances to play big and important roles, but doesn’t think we should sacrifice “the sort of basic fundamental principle of actors being able to play things that they are not necessarily.”

“If an actor’s body is their canvas, my body is my tool – the painter uses a canvas, the actor uses their own body – so within that definition of acting, there has to be the possibility of transformation,” he said. “And sometimes the most interesting creative work comes from where somebody who is not something is coming up against it, and it’s the fizz of that – the joining of two that makes it interesting.”

Feud: Capote vs. The Swans premieres January 31 on FX.

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Mey Rude

Mey Rude is a journalist and cultural critic who has been covering queer news for a decade. The transgender, Latina lesbian lives in Los Angeles with her fiancée.

Mey Rude is a journalist and cultural critic who has been covering queer news for a decade. The transgender, Latina lesbian lives in Los Angeles with her fiancée.