Ewan McGregor defends playing a gay character in new Ryan Murphy series: ‘It was just one part of who he was’

Lily Wakefield
·2-min read

Straight actor Ewan McGregor has defended his role as gay fashion designer Halston in Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix miniseries.

The five-part series, simply titled Halston, is set to be released on 14 May, and will follow fashion designer and Studio 54 icon Roy “Halston” Frowick “as he leverages his single, invented name into a worldwide fashion empire that’s synonymous with luxury, sex, status and fame”.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, McGregor was reminded of a quote from Pose star Billy Porter: “Straight men playing gay — everyone wants to give them an award.”

McGregor, who has previously taken up other queer roles The Pillow Book and I Love You Phillip Morris, responded: “I hear the discussion and I respect both sides of it, I really do.

“I haven’t walked in Billy Porter’s shoes. I don’t know what it’s like to lose out parts when you might feel it’s to do with your sexuality. So I can only respect his point of view.”

Halston was openly gay, and the show will portray his relationship with lover Victor Hugo, played by Gian Franco Rodriguez. The fashion designer died from an AIDS-related illness in 1990.

But, defending his role, McGregor said: “If it had been a story about Halston’s sexuality more, then maybe it’s right that gay actors should play that role.

“But in this case — and I don’t want to sound like I’m worming out of this, because it’s something I did think a lot about — I suppose ultimately I felt like it was just one part of who he was.”

Ryan Murphy said Ewan McGregor was ‘the only choice’ to play Halston

Ryan Murphy, who wrote and executive produced Halston, told Tom Ford in a Vogue interview that Ewan McGregor “was, to us, the only choice” for the role, despite the current debate over straight actors playing gay characters.

Ford said that he originally thought the Scottish actor was “completely wrong” to play Halston, but he was won over when he saw the series.

Murphy added: “The thing that Ewan got about Halston was that Halston had a vision in mind of who he wanted to be in life. He was self-created.”