Backlash embroiled British comedian Jack Whitehall’s casting as Disney’s first gay character in the upcoming production of The Jungle Cruise.
Whitehall, 30, will reportedly receive a seven-figure sum to play the role of a “fun, effete young man” who “makes clear he has no interest in women” alongside co-stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in the Disney film.
“This is a huge gig for Jack and has landed him his biggest ever pay cheque” a source close to the actor told The Sun. “But, more excitingly, he is playing a gay man – one who is hugely effete, very camp and very funny.”
“It’s a dream role. Disney’s always been incredibly supportive of the LGBTQ community,” they continued. “This latest script, set at a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable to be gay, is another significant turning point.”
The decision caused anger among some progressives who complained that an LGBT role had been given to a “straight white male.”
If you’re one of the people who ‘doesn’t see the big deal’ RE Jack Whitehall, a straight white male cast as the first openly gay Disney character then you’re part of the problem 💁🏼♀️
— NOLE KSUM (@ClionaLou) August 13, 2018
If Scarlett Johansson wasn’t allowed to play a trans man then Jack Whitehall shouldn’t be allowed to play a gay man. Especially so when you consider there are absolute hundreds of out gay men in Hollywood who are better actors than him
— Sophie WilkINson (@sophwilkinson) August 13, 2018
— Omar Sharif Jr. (@OmarSharifJr) August 13, 2018
Whitehall, 30, has built up his career largely through comedic acts with his 78-year-old father Michael, last year releasing the Netflix travel documentary Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father.
Despite this landmark casting, it is not the first time that Disney has flirted with gay storylines. In the 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast, the film featured its first “exclusively gay moment” as one character appears “confused about what he wants” sexually.
Meanwhile, the latest season of the company’s children’s comedy-drama Andi Mack involves the realization of one 13-year-old boy that he is attracted to one of his male classmates.