Editors' Note: Guest blogger James Mason is an actor and LGBT advocate from Los Angeles. He writes the popular Hollywood Duke column for dot429.com.
The story of Luke Evans, who stars as Aramis in the just-released The Three Musketeers, as Zeus in the upcoming Immortals, and who is now filming The Hobbit, is a perfect example of the oppressive influence that Hollywood has over its actors.
In 2002, as a young theater actor in the UK, Evans talked frankly about the fact that he was gay and stated in an interview that his honesty, at the onset of his career, meant that he wouldn't, one day, have "that skeleton in the closet they can rattle out." In 2004 he went so far as to talk about his gay porn collection. Evans was not only open about his sexuality, but unapologetically so.
Then something changed.
In April 2010, he made his first big foray into film playing the Greek god Apollo in the blockbuster movie Clash of the Titans. He was thrust into the spotlight, and this meant more attention being focused on his personal life. The website WalesOnline.co.uk did an article in which they linked Evans to a PR executive named Holly Goodchild; "Luke's lovely - we're really old friends and it just sort of happened," she was quoted as saying. She then added: "We are nowhere near engaged but things are really good."
In August 2011, this strange discrepancy was picked up on by AfterElton.com, which attempted to contact Evans and/or his team for clarification. During this time, Evans' Wikipedia page was changed from simply saying that he was "openly gay" to saying that he "rarely speaks about his personal life," and that "he has made it clear in the past that press and private life are very separate and should never be mixed."
His publicist later released the statement: "I do not comment on my client's personal lives in the media. As for Luke, he did so once, a long time ago when he was an inexperienced, young actor and now with maturity and hindsight, he has learned not to engage the press in his personal life again."
What makes the publicist's statement particularly disturbing is that it basically says that Luke, and any other actor who has the courage and conviction to come out, are naive and immature. Not only is that incorrect, it is wrong. Evans is clearly a victim of the status quo in this industry that dictates that unless you follow the rules and fit into the box they want to put you in, you have no chance of making it as a leading man.
A friend of mine, who also happens to be friends with Mr. Evans, told me that Luke wishes he could be out, but he has been forced back in the closet by the studio executives who essentially gave him an ultimatum: it's the closet or bust.
In the last few months there have not been any further comments from Evans or his team, nor has any of the mainstream media asked any questions during the publicity tours that Evans has been on for The Three Musketeers and Immortals.
All has been silent, except for a change to his Wikipedia page which now states that Evans "openly identified as gay" in his "early career" but he recently was "romantically linked with a woman." The fact that this duplicity has been able to go on without any real accountability or opposition baffles me.
I have never outed anyone; in fact, I am strongly against the idea of outing. But I do think, as Michael Jensen of AfterElton.com put it, that there's "nothing wrong with asking the question," particularly when we're talking about an actor who has already in the past been open about his sexuality but is now backtracking with no explanation.
It's less about Mr. Evans himself than it is the stranglehold that the power players in Hollywood have on their performers. It may be unpopular to discuss, but the truth needs to be told, and the more that happens, and the bigger the dialogue becomes, the sooner this injustice will stop.
(Crossposted at dot429.com)