Jared Leto has defended his appearance in 'The Dallas Buyers' Club' as trans woman Rayon.
Jared Leto was heckled whilst receiving an award at the Virtuosos Awards at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Monday (3rd February). The actor was on stage when two women in the front of the auditorium shouted "Trans misogyny does not deserve an award."
Jared Leto as Rayon with Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers' Club.
Leto has recently appeared in Dallas Buyers' Club as Rayon, a transgender woman. The hecklers, when Leto asked what they meant, stated Leto didn't "deserve to play a trans woman." Leto was, understandably, perplexed and asked the woman why. He said, as PEOPLE reports, "Because I'm a man, I don't deserve to play that part. So you want to hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian, they can't play a straight part?"
The women responded, claiming that "Straight-gender people always play transgender people, and all of them received awards and credit for it."
Leto, kept his poise and responded calmly, responding with "Then you make sure that people that are gay, people that aren't straight, people like the Rayons of the world would never have the opportunity to turn the tables and explore parts of that art." Leto then invited the hecklers backstage and was happy to discuss the issue in more depth with them.
In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, Leto has also discussed the criticism he has encountered after playing the role of Rayon. He said: "I think it's wonderful for actors to be able to play roles that are outside of themselves. That being said, you wouldn't want to stick a transgender person with only transgender roles. So it goes both ways. That's what makes art and acting really exciting, is you get a chance to learn about other people and stretch and push yourself."
There are very few transgender actors in Hollywood. Netflix's Orange Is the New Black is one of the few productions to have cast a trans woman, albeit in the role of a transgender character. Laverne Cox plays Sophia, an inmate at the women's prison where the show's protagonist is incarcerated. There are few other transgender actors and many trans women characters are played by men including John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Lee Pace as Calpernia Addams in Soldiers' Girl. However, with such actors taking on these roles it is surely drawing attention to the lack of transgender actors which ultimately may change attitudes in the long run.
Jared Leto at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.