Andrew Garfield, currently starring as gay character Prior Walter in the UK’s National Theatre production of “Angels in America,” is facing a social media backlash for a comment made during a moderated talk Monday.
In response to an audience member asking about Garfield’s research and rehearsal resources for the taxing role of a man with AIDS, the actor, 33, noted in part that, “Every Sunday I would have eight friends over and we would just watch Ru,” referring to the reality show drag queen competition “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” “This is my life outside of this play. I am a gay man right now just without the physical act — that’s all.”
The remark, reported by the magazine Gay Times, which covered the one-hour National Theatre Platform talk “Andrew Garfield and Denise Gough on Angels in America,” drew numerous rebukes on Twitter.
“Garfield compared watching a TV show and portraying a gay man to being gay without the physical act. No buddy,” wrote one commenter. Another, conflating two media, tweeted, “Andrew Garfield playing a gay man on TV [sic] doesn’t suddenly mean he understands oppression.” Comedian H. Alan Scott concurred: “The straight white privilege of Andrew Garfield. Must be nice to be able to be gay without any of the hardships.”
One commenter who had posted a widely circulated tweet — “Hey did you know that if you marathon Drag Race you are a gay man? That’s all it takes. Who knew. Thanks, Andrew Garfield.” — later removed it and conceded in a subsequent post that that it had been simply a “dumb tweet joke.”
Gay Times itself took no issue with the comment. Garfield, who has no verified social media accounts, has not commented publicly.
The actor had begun his answer by saying, “As far as I know, I am not a gay man. Maybe I’ll have an awakening later in my life, which I’m sure will be wonderful and I’ll get to explore that part of the garden, but right now I’m secluded to my area, which is wonderful as well. I adore it, but a big concern was what right do I have to play this wonderful gay role?” He said he believed that since Tony Kushner, author of the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play, had asked him to do the role, that “it was the right thing.”