Mark Ruffalo Responds To Critics Who Slammed Matt Bomer's Casting As Trans Woman
Between the critical success of Tangerine, the popularity of Transparent, and the mainstream acceptance of movies like Dallas Buyers Club and The Danish Girl, the transgender community is getting more exposure on the screen than it ever has before.
The community says that there's a huge problem, however: transgender actors aren't being cast to play trans characters. In the aforementioned works, only Tangerine had brought in a transgender actors to take the lion's share of the screen time.
The trans community is getting tired of it. And now they've turned their attention to Anything, an upcoming movie in which a transgender woman develops an unlikely friendship (trope alert!) with a suicidal and recently-widowed man. According to Variety, "The unlikely new couple must reconcile their vastly different backgrounds as they fill the void in each other's lives."
The trans woman will be played by Matt Bomer, who you might know from TV through American Horror Story and White Collar, or the Magic Mike sequel. Bomer is openly gay and has been married to another man since 2011. So no, he's not a transgender woman, and the trans community has shared their disapproval over his casting.
Jen Richards, a trans woman who'd auditioned for a part (not Bomer's) in the movie, made a video explaining the critical comments she'd made on Twitter, and some of what had happened during the casting:
In the video, Richards praised Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl) and Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent) for their acting chops, but said that when cis actors are hired to play trans characters, "it becomes more about the person acting out their gender, rather than the character in the story. For trans actors, it's not about us performing the gender, we just are trans, and we can just act out the character."
Mark Ruffalo, who served as an executive producer on the film, addressed the trans community and explained some of the decisions made on the set.
To the Trans community. I hear you. It's wrenching to you see you in this pain. I am glad we are having this conversation. It's time.— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) August 31, 2016
In all honesty I suggested Matt for the role after the profound experience I had with him while making "The Normal Heart".— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) August 31, 2016
Richards thought this was a positive step:
But many in the trans community were not mollified by Ruffalo's remarks.
Many were asking for Ruffalo to re-cast and re-shoot Anything, which is based on a play written by Timothy McNeil (who also directed the film). But, weirdly, it turns out the movie has already been shot, even though we can't find an IMDB page for it, and even though Variety hadn't mentioned the movie until a few days ago.
The movie is already shot and Matt poured his heart and soul into this part. Please have a little compassion. We are all learning.— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) August 31, 2016
This was a recurring theme: directing attention to Bomer's talents as an actor, which ignores the matter of rightful representation. It was how many Bomer fans framed the situation. They even created a #ISupportMattBomer hashtag:
Trans Hollywood, however, disagrees with the notion that talent is the top priority for casting directors. They say it's really about making the big bucks: