American Horror Story star Billy Eichner says options for gay actors are "limited" in Hollywood

From Digital Spy

American Horror Story and The Lion King star Billy Eichner has opened-up about the "limited" options for gay actors in Hollywood.

The actor is developing and planning to star in a new biopic called Man in the Box about TV icon Paul Lynde, who, while never out publicly, never hid being gay – a contrast to many of the closeted actors of the day.

Speaking about how things have changed since Lynde's career took off in the 1960s, Eichner lamented the closed opportunities that still persist for openly gay actors.

Photo credit: Gary Gershoff - Getty Images
Photo credit: Gary Gershoff - Getty Images

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"Perhaps we're not as marginalized, politically, or in the world at large and obviously things have gotten better," he told Deadline. "But within our industry, although you're seeing more gay people on TV, and more gay characters, we're often used in such limited ways.

"I think that dovetails with how Paul (Lynde) felt limited. He came from a very prestigious dynamic acting program at Northwestern, went to New York, did stand-up, and he did Broadway, and I think he absolutely felt that his choices were limited.

"The same persona that allowed him to become rich and famous, which was...they would never say gay in those days. They would say flamboyant. That same flamboyance also limited his options."

Photo credit: Silver Screen Collection - Getty Images
Photo credit: Silver Screen Collection - Getty Images

The star went on to admit he is "fascinated" by options for actors "who present themselves as something other than masculine".

"We might applaud them, and we might say, oh, they're so funny, you know, but they have tended, in the past, not to be allowed to have the types of dynamic, chameleon-like careers that straight actors, who get the same level of admiration, the same level of respect, the same number of laughs, have been able to get," he added.

"There is no gay Tom Hanks in this country. There is no gay Will Ferrell. There's no gay Steve Carell. There's no gay Paul Rudd. There's no gay Kevin Hart. There's no gay Will Smith. The list goes on and on, and that's not a coincidence.

"After a hundred years of making films, it's not a coincidence. It's not that they just haven't been able to find the right gay man, who has enough talent to have a career like that."

Photo credit: Matt Winkelmeyer / Staff - Getty Images
Photo credit: Matt Winkelmeyer / Staff - Getty Images

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Elaborating, Eichner continued: "What's happened is that, when someone comes out of the closet, we celebrate them. We applaud them. We put them on the cover of magazines. We say, thank you for living your truth, and thank you for being brave, and you're such a role model for our gay kids.

"And then instantly, that actor gets taken off so many casting lists in the business. This is exactly what happened to Paul, and if it's still happening today, which I can tell you from my own career, having lived it on the day to day, for almost 20 years now, it happened to Paul in even more extreme ways, and he felt very limited by that."

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