On Sunday, at a press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival for Hardy’s new movie Legend, in which Hardy plays a gay man, reporter Graeme Coleman from the LGBT news outlet Daily Xtra asked Hardy: “Do you find it hard for celebrities to talk to media about their sexuality?” After an awkward back-and-forth, Hardy shut down the question with "Thank you."
Digg posted the video with the headline "Tom Hardy Has The Perfect Answer To Reporter Asking Him About His Sexuality." But if anything this should make Hardy look bad, not the reporter.
There is nothing embarrassing about being gay. There is nothing dirty or taboo about it. Asking someone if he or she is gay is the equivalent of asking if they are married, if they were raised Christian, of if they have a bachelor’s degree. It is a factual question. Just because being gay affects who a person has sex with, this is not a question about his or her sex life. It’s not asking about which sexual positions a person prefers or how often they masturbate. Those are, of course, personal matters that should never be asked about (unless by a very close friend at a boozy brunch).
The reason why some people don’t want to ask—both at press conferences and at cocktail parties—is because there is still that little lingering doubt in the back of their minds that there is something wrong with homosexuality. If you ask someone whether he or she is gay, and he or she is not, they should not feel badly about themselves or about you.
Gay people are, in most cases, happy to tell you that they are gay. Straight people hardly ever get asked whether they’re straight or gay and might be taken aback by the question, but they seem to never have a problem setting the record straight. (Asking how much someone makes or how much they spent on a dress, however, is still off limits.)
Regardless, these questions are especially relevant given Hardy’s past statements and his role in this movie. In 2008, while Hardy was promoting another movie in which he played a gay man, British gay lifestyle magazine Attitude quoted him saying "I've played with everything and everyone." Hardy later denied that he ever had sex with men and said he was misquoted. In Legend, Hardy plays both Reggie and Ronnie Kray, twin British gangsters. Ronnie is known to have been gay, and recent reports claim that both brothers were bisexual.
That's likely why the reporter asked about Hardy's sexual orientation. It’s the same reason why a reporter might ask the man playing Jesus in a TV movie whether or not he was raised Christian. It doesn’t question his competence as an actor, but it does have relevance to what sort of personal experiences he brings to the role.
I get why Hardy is upset with the inquiry—the question has been asked and answered. We don’t need to ask Neil Patrick Harris or Wanda Sykes about their sexuality for every role they play. The issue is that the question is whether Hardy finds it hard for celebrities to talk about their sexuality, and Hardy says no when everything about his response seems to say the opposite.
Those who are celebrating Hardy’s response seem to think that keeping people from asking about sexual orientation is helping end homophobia. It’s just the opposite, in fact. It further convinces people that being gay (or even asking if someone is gay) is something shameful that needs to be hidden. It's not.
A more honest, interesting answer would have gone something like this:
Yes, I do find it hard to discuss sexuality as a celebrity. I made some comments that were misquoted by a magazine and ever since then questions about my sexuality always pop up. I am straight. It just shows how obsessed we are, as a culture, with gay people and gay sex. Who we sleep with doesn’t matter, and I wish that this matter could be closed for good rather than being brought up at every opportunity for mere titillation’s sake.
That would have been the perfect answer, but Hardy unfortunately didn't give it.
Mad Max: Fury Road
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Far From the Madding Crowd
The new adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel appeals to the Pride and Prejudice set, but with more subtlety and sadness than most Austen films, plus a hearty heaping of rustic drudgery. Carey Mulligan's gutsy Bathsheba gets swept off her feet like the best of her 19th century romantic peers, but without their usual histrionics—somewhere between Lean In and Wuthering Heights.
Love & Mercy
Paul Dano fulfills the promise of roles in Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood as a young Brian Wilson, the Beach Boy who's going slowly mad while recording the group's landmark album Pet Sounds. John Cusack shows us the older Wilson, now paralyzed by overmedication at the hands of a villain. It's a gripping story of mental illness, which is sadly all too common, and true musical genius—which is extremely rare.
Each Fast & Furious movie has gleefully attempted to outdo the previous one. Brought down a plane in the last movie? How about making cars fly out of one in the next? While Furious 7 doubled down on its self-consciously corny lines and over-the-top stunts—crashing cars through not one, not two, but three high rises—it also took a moment to give a surprisingly moving send off to star Paul Walker, who died in 2013. While he will be missed, this increasingly diverse franchise has a bright future.
Alicia Vikander's breakout year hinged on her spooky turn as a robot who may or may not have motives of her own. But this sci-fi thriller got its thrust from the creepy bond between the two men obsessed with Ava: tech billionaire Oscar Isaac and humble employee Domhnall Gleeson.
Clouds of Sils Maria
Freed from Twilight, Kristen Stewart showed flashes of both savage intelligence and newfound sensitivity as the personal assistant to Juliette Binoche's pampered, neurotic actress. The film works as both insider moviemaking satire and an enigmatic tribute to intergenerational bonds between women.
Welcome to Me
Kristen Wiig, at her best, has always had a far more barbed edge than her comedy contemporaries; there's real bite, and pathos, to her most memorable characters. Add Alice Klieg to that pantheon. Wiig commits utterly to the story of an ill woman who spends her lottery winnings on a five-day-a-week talk show dedicated to praising herself and shaming her enemies. It works as comment on our media age, but soars as a portrait of suffering that only Wiig could make hilarious.
Writer-director Rick Famuyiwa's tale about a nerdy black teen obsessed with '90s hip hop culture rejects the trappings the typical coming-of-age flick, starting with its setting: Inglewood, Calif., otherwise known as "The Bottoms." Newcomer Shameik Moore's portrayal of Malcolm, who's stuck between his ambition for a spot at Harvard and the whac-a-mole of obstacles that keep popping up to thwart him, thrusts the rising star into the well-deserved spotlight.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's adaptation of Jesse Andrews' young adult novel is a love letter to his late father and a tribute to the cinema greats who professionally reared him—and the movie's labor-of-love origins are felt throughout. Though its plot, in which a high school senior is forced by his parents to befriend a classmate with leukemia, begs comparisons to The Fault in Our Stars, the movie defies categorization as a typical teen cancer rom-com by keeping its quirky protagonists in the realm of friendship.
The Boy Next Door
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