It’s not every day someone gets accused of being trans-misogynistic, but that’s exactly what Jared Leto was accused of while speaking at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. The moment reads pretty odd, seeing as how hecklers usually don’t attend film festivals, and when they do, they usually react after a film screening, not during a conversation that’s happening on stage with the talent.
That said, Leto was accused of “trans-misogyny” by a heckler who thought his impressive turn as a transgender woman in Dallas Buyers Club was offensive. Instead of ignoring the heckler, Leto decided to partake in the conversation, and proceeded to have an awkward conversation as the heckler sat in her seat.
According to The Hollywood Reporter the heckling started at the film fest’s Virtuosos Awards, which was an event that Leto was being honored at for his portrayal of Rayon, an HIV-positive transgender woman. The moment began when the woman told Leto that “trans-misogyny does not deserve an award.”
When Jared Leto asked for clarification on the heckler’s statement, she said:
“You don’t deserve an award for portraying a trans-woman, because you’re a man.”
Clearly puzzled, Leto tried to understand where the woman was coming from, and asked:
“Because I’m a man, I don’t deserve to play the part? So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian — they can’t play a straight part?”
The Dallas Buyers Club actor and the unidentified woman continued to go back and forth. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the heckler was “arguing that straight people always play transgendered characters and received awards for it.”
Leto wasn’t happy with the statement, and went on the offense, suggesting if that was the case “only straight actors could portray straight characters.”
“Then you’ve made sure people that are gay, people that aren’t straight, people like the Rayons of the world would never have the opportunity to turn the tables and explore parts of that art.”
Instead of turning the argument into an ugly conversation, according to the source on the scene, Leto invited the heckler to continue the conversation after the event. Keeping his word he met the woman and her friends for a fifteen minute conversation which was referred to as “cordial.”
So far Jared Leto has won every major award that he’s been nominated for for his turn in Dallas Buyers Club. When he picked up his award at the SAG Awards, Leto said:
“Today you not only honor me but also all those around the world living with AIDS and all those who have lost to this disease. Thank you for recognizing them and recognizing their struggle through Dallas Buyers Club.”
Jared Leto is expected to win the Academy Award in March for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.