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Why Daily Xtra asked Tom Hardy about his sexuality at TIFF

Many TIFF stars welcome questions about their sexuality on- and off-screen

Though actor Tom Hardy bristled at Daily Xtra’s questions about sexuality during a press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on Sept 13, 2015, touching off a media firestorm — other actors have embraced our questions at TIFF, and even welcomed the opportunity to shine a spotlight on sexuality and gender identity.

As Canada’s gay and lesbian news source, we feel it’s our responsibility to examine sexuality and the ways in which it’s portrayed on screen, especially once it’s in the public eye. 

Evan Rachel Wood welcomed the discussion. Wood, who is starring in the film Into the Forest that is premiering at TIFF, told Daily Xtra that she came out as bisexual in 2012 because it’s “a huge part” of who she is — despite warnings from “a lot of people” about possible consequences to her career.

“I think there’s so much biphobia and so much misconceptions about it, and it’s really not even acknowledged most of the time and I wanted to speak out about it because it’s something near and dear to my heart,” she says. “It was a weight lifted. I was a happier better person because of it.”

Wood thinks the entertainment industry is changing and that more doors are opening for the LGBT community and the topics tackled in film.

Wood’s co-star Ellen Page says she’s “not naive to the fact that I’m an out gay actor,” but says her career has only benefited from coming out, as her happiness and creativity soared.

“For me personally everything in my career life is made better because I feel better, you know,” says Page, who came out in 2014. “I feel happy. I feel excited about life again.”

Susan Sarandon, who plays a lesbian struggling with her grandchild’s transition in the film About Ray, also seemed more than happy to tell Daily Xtra about her own son, who comfortably “colours outside the lines in terms of gender roles.”

Daily Xtra sat down with Sarandon for an interview on Sept 12, 2015.

In contrast, Tom Hardy, who plays both a bisexual man and his identical twin in the film Legend, did not welcome Daily Xtra’s questions.

“In the film, your character Ronnie is very open about his sexuality,” said Daily Xtra reporter Graeme Coleman. “But given interviews you’ve done in the past, your own sexuality seems a bit more ambiguous. Do you find it hard for celebrities to talk to media about their sexuality?”

“What on earth are you on about?” Hardy replied.

“I was referring to an interview given to Attitude magazine a few years ago,” Coleman said.

In that 2008 interview, Hardy reportedly said he’d “played with everything and everyone. But I’m not into men sexually. I love the form and the physicality but the gay sex bit does nothing for me.”

“It just doesn’t do it for me, sex with another man,” he reportedly continued. “But there’s plenty of stuff in a relationship with another man, especially gay men, that I need in my life.”

He later said his words were “misconstrued.”

As Gawker quickly acknowledged, “All this would point to the fact that it is hard for celebrities to talk about their sexuality. But Tom Hardy wasn’t in the answering mood . . .”

Neither was James Franco when Daily Xtra asked what draws him to gay culture, and the many gay characters he’s portrayed in film, on the red carpet at TIFF in 2014.

Less than a year later, Franco interviewed himself on dot429 — and belatedly answered the question that we posed.

“I like to think that I’m gay in my art and straight in my life,” Franco wrote. “Although, I’m also gay in my life up to the point of intercourse, and then you could say I’m straight. So I guess it depends on how you define gay. If it means whom you have sex with, I guess I’m straight.”