English actor Ben Whishaw has appeared in many important productions but the role that had a definitive effect on popular culture was his portrayal of Q in the James Bond films. He also provided the voice acting for one of the most beloved characters ever – the infinitely adorable Paddington Bear in the film series and the TV show.
The question of representation is becoming an increasingly demanding one, with many people realising how important it is to get it right and the power that images can have. Whishaw has joined the debate by voicing his opinions about straight actors being cast for LGBTQ+ roles in a recent interview with The Guardian.
Previously, he had also spoken about the future casting of James Bond after Daniel Craig stepped down following No Time to Die. While other stars proposed that a Black actor or a non-male lead should continue the legacy in a different direction, Whishaw also hoped that a gay James Bond would be a potential reality as it would symbolise true progress.
While talking about straight actors playing gay characters, Whishaw cited Eddie Redmayne’s work in The Danish Girl and praised his portrayal of a trans character. He argued: “Going forward, there will be other films in which the role is given to someone who lived that experience. Why shouldn’t a role like that be given to someone who knows, inside, what the character is? I’m all for that.”
Adding, “I feel the same, sometimes, about straight actors playing gay parts. I’m critical if I don’t think the performance is, from my subjective experience, accurate. I might think, ‘I don’t believe you!’ And even a small moment of hesitation or inauthenticity will block my engagement with the whole story. So I understand these questions.”
According to Whishaw, the entire spectrum of public discourse has become extremely polarised and it is extremely crucial to have the ability to listen to each other and talk through points of disagreement. “If anyone takes a moment to look inside themselves about how they’re thinking or feeling on a subject, they’ll immediately see all manner of things that are not consistent,” Whishaw concluded. “So I’m on the side of listening to each other.”