The 88th Academy Awards have already come under fire for under-representing minority ethnicities, and Sir Ian McKellen has highlighted another diversity issue with the awards ceremony: the fact that no gay actors are represented.
McKellen agreed with black actors (some of whom have called for a boycott of the ceremony), saying they were “being ill-treated and underestimated”, but stated that the lack of diversity went beyond race.
“No openly gay man has ever won the Oscar. I wonder if that is prejudice or chance”, he said at the British Film Institute in London, The Guardian reports.
McKellen is a veteran actor whose accomplishments have not gone unnoticed, and he has twice been nominated for an Academy Award — Best Actor for God and Monsters (1998) and Best Supporting Actor for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2002). He planned to include the words, “I’m proud to be the first openly gay man to win the Oscar” in his acceptance speech, but on both occasions he lost out to other actors.
While no openly gay actors have picked up an Oscar, these three actors have won the award for portraying homosexuals on screen: Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sean Penn.
“How clever, how clever”, McKellen remarked. “What about giving me one for playing a straight man?”
Jodie Foster, although revealing her homosexuality only in 2013, has won two Oscars in her career: for The Accused (1988) and for The Silence of the Lambs (1992), both for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
According to The Telegraph, McKellen drove home his point by stating that there needs to be reformation within the Academy.
“I think you have to live in Hollywood, where the Oscars mean so much more than they do elsewhere, to understand why people’s feelings are running so high”, he said.
“And the fact that black people feel under-represented in studio movies and big movies, well, it’s what women thought for a long time, it’s what gay people like myself still think…”