It was recently announced that Matt Bomer would be taking on the role of a transgender sex worker in a new film Anything. The film is based on a play by Timothy McNeil with the same name that follows the story of a suicidal widow who moves to Los Angeles and meets a transgender sex worker. The two bond in an unlikely way, overcoming their differences to help fill the empty spaces in one another’s life.
Mark Ruffalo joins Matt Bomer for another project after the two worked together on The Normal Heart. That film, which portrayed Matt’s hard work, dedication, and compassion is actually what inspired Mark to suggest Matt for the character he portrays in Anything. Matt played a reporter named Felix in The Normal Heart who ended up losing his life to AIDS and the film, from start to finish, was emotional and overwhelming.
Anything seems to be a film that will also grasp at the emotions of its viewers and take them through an experience rather than just play out on a screen in a cinema. The experience, however, got off to a rocky start after the cast was announced and instead of a transgender woman getting the role, it was given to a cis male.
There were arguments from people who disagreed with this decision and people who defended it; some members of the LGBTQ+ community saying they took no offense to straight/cis actors/actresses playing roles of characters who are not since it’s “acting”. Others brought facts of violence against trans women, Jen Richards most specifically, and spoke about the need for the LGBTQ+ to tell their own stories.
On August 28th, Jen posted this on her Twitter account.
“All of this pales to the main reason not to have cis men play trans women. This is the reason that is making me cry as I type this…It will result in violence against trans women. And that is not hyperbole, I mean it literally. Cis men playing trans women leads to death. Here’s why. I’ve spent years looking at violence against trans women, particularly who does it & why. I talk to survivors. There’s a pattern Straight men are attracted to trans women. They always have been, always will be. We are some of the most popular sex workers. It’s a fact. BUT they are afraid that being with trans women makes them gay/less masculine. They seek us out, enjoy us, then punish us for their anxiety. Let’s be more direct: They have sex with us, worry that makes them gay, then reassert their masculinity through violence aimed at us.”
There were tears, emotion, anger, and finally a sense of some type of moving forward when Mark Ruffalo himself took to Twitter.
Matt did speak of Anything, the play, a couple years ago to Deadline and mentioned his desire to take on the role.
“I actually read a beautiful new play by Timothy McNeil that I am going to start just seeing if there’s some interest in it. It’s a really mature, very literary piece that is very powerful and I think very timely. It’s a hell of a piece of theater. And you know, in the great tradition of the theater, I refuse to be any one thing. Or any one person.”
While Matt has yet to speak publicly on the matter, Mark’s tweets did start conversation with some transgender women on Twitter who said they’d love to talk to him, and Matt too, about why they’re so passionate in their stance and that maybe this really could be the beginning of ‘getting it right’ when it comes to casting in Hollywood. At the very least, Mark taking the time to speak up, show himself responsible, and acknowledge the need for change speaks highly of who he is and also of his dedication to the film which is already in post-production.
“We are all learning.” Mark said, and he’s right. Hopefully, this lesson is one that sparks a change.