Page last updated at 08:01 GMT, Friday, 2 May 2008 09:01 UK

Media 'keeping actors in closet'

By Genevieve Hassan
BBC News entertainment reporter

Alan Cumming
Cumming now divides his time between the UK and US

Actor Alan Cumming has said the media's attitude towards homosexuality is scaring off gay actors from coming out.

The 43-year-old X-Men 2 star said actors were afraid because the press portrayed being gay as controversial.

"I don't think the people that go see films care that much - the media make it more of a deal and it's made into controversy," he told the BBC.

Cumming added: "There is a lot of homophobia in the world - but in Hollywood definitely."

Pigeonholed

Actors like Stephen Fry and Rupert Everett recently complained they feel pigeonholed since coming out.

But Cumming, who "married" his partner Grant Shaffer in a civil ceremony last year, does not think he has been.

"Some of them do, but lots of straight actors get pigeonholed in various roles," he said.

Alan Cumming
Cumming will soon be seen in Tin Man, a modern take on The Wizard of Oz

"I'm quite outspoken in the media about what I perceive as a civil rights struggle that gay people in America are still going through.

"But I don't think that I only play gay characters, or I wouldn't be as convincing if I had a wife or a girlfriend in a movie."

Derek Munn, director of public affairs for Stonewall which promotes equality and justice for gay people, said: "Stonewall has long been concerned about the representation of lesbian and gay people, both in the film industry and the media in general.

"The pitifully low number of openly lesbian or gay actors suggests that there is a problem. The film industry needs to think about why it is that gay actors choose not to come out.'

Cumming, who was born in Perthshire, Scotland, now divides his time between the UK and the US.

In addition to his theatre work, he has starred in Hollywood films including GoldenEye, Spy Kids and the 2000 remake of Get Carter.

He will soon be seen in Tin Man, a modern re-working of The Wizard of Oz, to be shown on the Sci-Fi Channel in the UK this month.

A full interview with Alan Cumming will appear on the BBC News website next week


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