Darren Criss – Glee and The Assassination Of Gianni Versace
Criss, 33, rose to fame playing openly gay singer Blaine Anderson on the Ryan Murphy series Glee from 2010 to 2015.
The actor reunited with Murphy in 2017 to portray gay serial killer Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
His performance in the second season of the anthology seres received critical acclaim from critics and also earned him an Emmy.
In 2018, he told Bustle, he won’t play gay characters any longer, saying: ‘I want to make sure I won’t be another straight boy taking a gay man’s role.’
Criss married writer and producer Mia Swier in 2019 after nearly a decade together.
Sean Penn – Milk
Penn, 60, played Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay public official, in Gus van Sant’s 2008 biopic Milk. The critically acclaimed performance earned the actor his second Oscar.
Penn, who was married previously to Madonna and Robin Wright, tied the knot with Leila George, the 28-year-old daughter of Vincent D’Onofrio, earlier this year amid the pandemic.
Hugh Grant – Maurice and A Very English Scandal
Early on in his career, Grant, 60, starred in the 1987 drama Maurice, an adaptation of an E.M. Forster novel. He played wealthy Clive Durham, a closeted aristocrat who embarks on an affair with his friend Maurice Hall (James Wilby).
The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival that year, where Grant and Wilby were jointly awarded Best Actor.
Decades later, Grant took on the role of British politician Jeremy Thorpe in the 2018 miniseries A Very English Scandal.
Based on a true story, the film chronicles how Thorpe, the leader of the British Labour Party, fell from power after a scandal involving his affair with model Norman Scott, who was played by openly gay actor Ben Whishaw.
The miniseries received very positive reviews and Grant was nominated a number of wards for his portrayal of Thorpe, including an Emmy and Golden Globe.
Grant was in a relationship with model Elizabeth Hurley from 1987 to 2000. In 2018, he married his wife Anna Eberstein.
Hilary Swank – Boys Don’t Cry
Swank, 46, starred in the 1999 film Boys Don’t Cry, a dramatization of the life and death of Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was the victim of a brutal hate crime in Nebraska.
The actress received critical acclaim for her performance in the biopic as well as her first Oscar award.
Swank was married to actor Chad Lowe from 1997 to 2007. She and her second husband Philip Schneider wed in 2018.
Felicity Huffman – Transamerica
Huffman, 57, played a transgender woman named Bree Osbourne in the 2005 independent film Transamerica.
The actress, who has been married to actor William H. Macy since 1997, received positive reviews for her performance, which earned her both a Golden Globe and an Independent Spirit Award.
‘I certainly understand the sentiment that a trans actor should play a trans role. And I support it,’ she told HuffPost Live in 2014.
Huffman added that trans people have been ‘marginalized for a long time and I think you see that in people who are not trans playing them.’
Tom Hanks – Philadelphia
Hanks, 64, portrayed gay lawyer Andrew Beckett in 1993 flick Philadelphia and earned his first Oscar for the critically acclaimed role.
The actor married his first wife Samantha Lewes in from 1978 to 1987. A year after his divorce, he wed Rita Wilson, and they’ve been together ever since.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger- Brokeback Mountain
Gyllenhaal, 39, and the late Ledger, who died in 2008, played gay lovers Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar, respectively, in the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain.
The drama received eight Academy Awards nominations, including nominations for two actors.
Gyllenhaal, who is in a relationship with French model Jeanne Cadieu, recently reflected on how he and Ledger were cast in the roles by director Ang Lee, who won an Oscar or the film.
‘I think we had been cast for our “essences” without really understanding what our “essences” were, and that’s outside of our sexuality,’ he told GQ last year. ‘We’re two straight guys cast in these roles, but who we are, who we were, Ang could see. And I don’t know if I could.’
Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name
Hammer, 34, and Chalamet, 24, played gay lovers Oliver and Elio, respectively, in the 2017 coming-of-age romantic drama Call Me By Your Name, an adaptation of André Aciman’s 2007 novel of the same name.
The critically acclaimed film received standing ovations at both the Sundance Film Festival and New York Film Festival when it was screened.
Chalamet, who was recently linked to Lily-Rose Depp, was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Elio.
Earlier this year, Hammer divorced his wife Elizabeth Chambers after a decade of marriage.
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
Redmayne, 38, played transgender icon Lile Elbe in the 2005 film The Danish Girl, which was based on David Ebershoff’s 2000 novel of the same name.
The drama was loosely inspired by the lives of Elbe and Gerda Wegene (Alicia Vikander), who were Danish painters. The film received criticism for its inaccurate portrayal of historical events as well as backlash for a cisgender man being cast as a trans woman.
However, Redmayne’s portrayal was critically acclaimed, and he was nominated for an Oscar for the role.
‘I hope there’s a day when there are more trans actors and trans actresses playing trans parts, but also cisgender parts,’ Redmayne said of the backlash in 2015. ‘And I hope — as an actor one hopes — that one should be able to play any sort of part if one plays it with a sense of integrity and responsibility.’
Redmayne has been married to Hannah Bagshawe since 2014.
Eric Stonestreet – Modern Family
Stonestreet, 49, is best known for playing gay dad Cam Tucker on the hit television series Modern Family, which ran from 2009 to 2020.
The actor, who is in a relationship with Lindsay Schweitzer, has received two Emmys for his role on the beloved ABC sitcom.
In 2016, gay actor Noah Galvin told Vulture that he thinks Stonestreet is a ‘wonderful actor,’ but ‘he’s playing a caricature of a caricature of a stereotype of stereotype on Modern Family.’
Michael Douglas and Matt Damon – Behind the Candelabra
Douglas, 76, took on the role of pianist Liberace in the 2003 biopic Behind the Candelabra, which dramatizes the last ten years of his life.
Damon, 50, portrayed Liberace’s lover Scott Thorson, and actors were praised for their performances in the film. Both of them received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for their respective roles, with Douglas winning both.
Douglas has been married to Catherine Zeta-Jones since 2000, while Damon and his wife Luciana Barroso wed in 2005.
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Leto, 48, won his first Oscar for playing Rayan, a drug-addicted trans woman with AIDS, in the 2013 film the Dallas Buyers Club.
While the film and his performance were widely praised, the actor faced backlash for taking on the role as a cisgender man.
Leto, who dating model Valery Kaufman, revealed in 2014 that he spoke to ‘some transgender kids while on tour’ and interviewed them, which helped shape his vision for Rayon.
‘I remember sending an e-mail making it very clear that I saw Rayon as someone who wanted to live life as a woman, not someone who was a glam-rocking drag queen,’ he said.’I had no interest in playing that part, and if that would have been the case, I would have said, “No, thank you.”‘
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara – Carol
Blanchett, 51, and Mara, 35, played lesbian lovers in the 2015 romantic drama Carol, which was based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt. (The novel was later republished as Carol in 1990.)
After the critically acclaimed film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, it received a 10-minute standing ovation. Both Blanchett and Mara were nominated for Oscars and Golden Globes for their respective performances as Carol Aird and Therese Belivet.
In 2018, Blanchett defended straight actors playing gay characters, saying: ‘I will fight to the death for the right to suspend disbelief and play roles beyond my experience.’
Blanchett and her husband Andrew Upton have been married since 1997, while Mara and her partner Joaquin Phoenix have been together for four years.
Charlize Theron – Monster
Theron, 45, won an Oscar for playing queer serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the 2003 biopic Monster.
The actress, whose most recent boyfriend was Sean Penn, was widely praised for her performance, though she later revealed that she actually received criticism for gaining 30 pounds for the role.
Theron admitted last year that she had almost turned down the role, but filmmaker Patty Jenkins changed her mind.
‘I didn’t think I could do it at first,’ she told Marie Claire Australia. ‘The thing that convinced me ultimately was that I had never had — and I get emotional thinking about it — I never had somebody believe in me like that before.
‘I was always the person who would go into audition after audition after audition and lay myself on broken glass and not get the part. And all of a sudden, this woman is sitting in front of me, and she’s like, “You have to. You’re the only person who can.”‘