PLAY­ING GAY

10 ac­tors who won Os­cars for play­ing LGBT roles

IN Magazine - - CONTENTS - By: Christo­pher Turner

10 ac­tors who won Os­cars for play­ing LGBT roles

This year Ed­die Red­mayne, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are join­ing the long list of ac­tors and ac­tresses who’ve re­ceived Os­car nom­i­na­tions for play­ing LGBT char­ac­ters. Peter Finch was the first to be rec­og­nized by the Academy for his role as a gay doc­tor in the 1971 film Sun­day Bloody Sun­day, and the ground­break­ing nom­i­na­tion paved the way for dozens of thes­pi­ans to re­ceive nods for tak­ing on gay, les­bian and trans­gen­der roles. Be­fore the 88th an­nual Academy Awards take place on Fe­bru­ary 28, here’s a look back at 10 stand­out per­for­mances that won our hearts and Os­car gold.

Wil­liam Hurt for Kiss of the Spi­der Woman (1985)

Wil­liam Hurt was the first ac­tor to win an Os­car for play­ing a gay char­ac­ter on the big screen. Hurt por­trayed Luis Molina, an in­car­cer­ated gay man, in the 1985 film Kiss of the Spi­der Woman.

Tom Hanks for Philadel­phia (1993)

Tom Hanks won his first Os­car for his heart­break­ing por­trayal of a lawyer who sues his for­mer em­ploy­ers af­ter they fire him for be­ing HIV-pos­i­tive. The film was one of the first main­stream movies to ad­dress HIV and ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.

Hi­lary Swank for Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

Hi­lary Swank took home the Best Ac­tress award for her por­trayal of Bran­don Teena, a trans­gen­der man who was beaten and mur­dered in the har­row­ing film Boys Don’t Cry. Swank’s emo­tional win was a first for an ac­tor por­tray­ing a trans­gen­der char­ac­ter.

Pené­lope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Pené­lope Cruz scored the Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tress award for her role in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. In the film, Cruz por­trays Maria Elena, a woman who has a polyamorous re­la­tion­ship with Cristina, (played by Scar­lett Jo­hans­son) and Juan An­to­nio (played by Javier Bar­dem).

Sean Penn for Milk (2008)

Sean Penn picked up the se­cond Os­car of his ca­reer for his grip­ping por­trayal of gay rights ac­tivist and politi­cian Har­vey Milk in the bi­o­graph­i­cal film, Milk. That night Penn used his ac­cep­tance speech to call for equal rights for the LGBT com­mu­nity say­ing, “We’ve got to have equal rights for ev­ery­one.”

Ni­cole Kid­man for The Hours (2002)

Ni­cole Kid­man won the Best Ac­tress award for her por­trayal of Vir­ginia Woolf in Michael Cun­ning­ham’s The Hours. Though mar­ried to Leonard Woolf (as shown in the film), the tor­tured writer had a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with ac­claimed writer Vita Sackville-West in the late 1920s.

Charlize Theron for Mon­ster (2003)

Charlize Theron de-glammed and earned her Best Ac­tress statue for her dis­turb­ing por­trayal of real-life pros­ti­tute-turned-se­rial-killer Aileen Wuornos in Mon­ster. Theron scored big with the pre­cur­sor awards, win­ning tro­phies from the Golden Globes, Screen Ac­tors Guild, Na­tional So­ci­ety of Film Crit­ics, Broad­cast Film Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion and In­de­pen­dent Spirit Awards.

Philip Sey­mour Hoff­man for Capote (2005)

The late Philip Sey­mour Hoff­man won his only Academy Award for his im­pres­sive per­for­mance in Ben­nett Miller’s film Capote. The his­tor­i­cally sketchy con­cen­trated on the gay au­thor as he was re­search­ing his true-crime mas­ter­piece, In Cold Blood. Un­for­tu­nately, Hoff­man’s tri­umphant win de­prived Heath Ledger of a much-de­served win for his role in Broke­back Moun­tain.

Christo­pher Plum­mer for Begin­ners (2010)

Christo­pher Plum­mer was awarded the Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tor statue for his por­trayal of a gay se­nior in the film, Begin­ners. The story of a man who comes out late in life af­ter the death of his wife is based on the ex­pe­ri­ences of writer and di­rec­tor Mike Mills, whose own father came out at age 75.

Jared Leto for Dal­las Buy­ers Club (2013)

Jared Leto won ac­co­lades and picked up the Os­car for Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tor for his per­for­mance of Rayon, a trans­gen­der woman with HIV in Dal­las Buy­ers Club. Leto’s char­ac­ter mem­o­rably joins forces with Matthew McConaughey’s char­ac­ter to bring life­sav­ing drugs to Texas dur­ing the early days of the AIDS epi­demic.

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