Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Hardy by name...

Speculation about an actor's sexuality is so commonplace, it's now a mandatory part of the career trajectory for any young man in the performing arts. From the moment someone first catches a casting director's eye, they're likely to be subjected to feverish speculation on every film-based message board.

But every once in a very long while, along comes an actor who isn't just prepared for the question, he's thought about his answer and decided to plump for honesty over obfuscation.

When country rock singer Vanessa Carlton and actress Anna Paquin recently announced their bisexuality to the world, pop culture commentators carped that it was easier for women. A little shock, a little titillation, and no harm done. It certainly didn't seem to hurt Angelina Jolie's career when she revealed that she'd munched some muffin in her time.

So what should we make of Tom Hardy's revelation this week that he's happy to embrace his gay side, not to mention other men's? OK, so maybe the tense is a little off - he did specify that this was a phase in his past. But his refreshing openness about sex with other men is still pretty encouraging.

Asked if he'd ever done the nasty with guys, the pretty pouter said "Of course I have. I'm an actor for fuck's sake. I've played with everything and everyone. I love the form and the physicality, but now that I'm in my thirties, it doesn't do it for me."

But have-a-go-homos shouldn't lose heart about the fact that he's now happily engaged to actress Charlotte Riley. As Tom says, "I'm done experimenting but there's plenty of stuff in a relationship with another man, especially gay men, that I need in my life. A lot of gay men get my thing for shoes. I have definite feminine qualities and a lot of gay men are incredibly masculine."

So there you go - you might not get to suck on those bee-stung lips of his, but you can happily while away an afternoon with him in Schuh.

And if Tom decides to fully embrace his 'feminine qualities' there's a new TV show in development where he can make his big announcement. Created by publicist Howard Bragman, 'Coming Out' while be a documentary-style show that will follow celebrities as they take their first tentative steps out of the showbiz closet.

It remains to be seen which celebrities will be willing to make a potentially career-defining declaration on an A&E reality show. If the whole point is that 'it's no big deal' - building a whole show around what a big deal it is might be counter productive. In the meantime, we can all start placing our bets on who's likely to appear. Time to hit those message boards then...

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