Sean Bean defends playing trans character in Accused: ‘If I did it today, there’d be an uproar’

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Sean Bean has reflected on his Emmy-winning performance as a trans character in drama series Accused, telling The Guardian there would be ‘uproar’ if he played such a role today.

The actor garnered international acclaim in 2012 for his role as a bored English teacher named Simon who has a female alter-ego named Tracie. In the episode, Tracie visits a nightclub where she seduces a married man named Tony, played by Stephen Graham.

“I come from a generation that started in repertory theatre, playing a different role each week. The aim was to play as many parts as possible,” Bean explained.

“Whereas there’s a tendency now to argue that characters can only be played by someone like them.”

Bean further weighed in on the debate surrounding cisgender, straight actors playing LGBT+ roles by saying he thinks such criticisms are “restrictive and counterproductive”.

“We risk getting into a situation where drama is dictated more by which boxes are ticked than the story being told,” he added.

“I often think that, if I did ‘Tracie’s Story’ today, there’d be an uproar. I have a feeling it would be questioned and wouldn’t even be made, but it’s one of the roles I’m proudest of. It seems such a shame if actors can’t play a range of parts.”

Sean Bean went on to win an International Emmy for his performance as Tracie in the the Jimmy McGovern-directed drama.

While promoting the show at the time, Bean revealed he had spent time in public dressed as a woman in order to prepare for the role.

“I prepared by walking round in high heels in the kitchen at home and one night I went out in the full gear and arm-in-arm with my middle daughter.

“I wanted to find out what it felt like, whether I’d be able to pull it off and have the bottle to function in that situation.”

Sean Bean is one of many actors in 2021 who have weighed in on the debate around cis actors playing trans roles. In November, Eddie Redmayne spoke to The Sunday Times about his Oscar-nominated performance as a trans woman in The Danish Girl, admitting to the newspaper that “it was a mistake”.

Single All The Way actor Michael Urie also spoke about his belief that straight actors should not be cast in gay roles, revealing he was adamant that gay actors be cast as gay characters in the hit Netflix Christmas romcom.

“I was like, it’s gonna be a lot easier in a year when I’m on Zoom doing junkets if we can speak authentically about our gay experience,” Urie told PinkNews in November.

“It’s going to be a lot easier than tiptoeing around the fact that my co-star, who I spend the entire movie falling in love with, doesn’t know what it’s like to be in love with a man.”

Earlier this month, Billy Eichner blasted film director Aaron Sorkin as “completely ignorant” after Sorkin made comments rejecting criticism of casing straight actors in gay roles.

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