People are outraged Jack Whitehall is playing Disney's first openly gay character in 'Jungle Cruise'

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Jungle Cruise, the upcoming film starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, will reportedly feature Disney’s first openly gay character. While that’s progress for sure, there is some criticism over the casting of the role.

On Sunday, a report in the U.K. tabloid the Sun said that the role British comedian and actor Jack Whitehall, 30, is playing in the movie based on Disneyland’s theme park ride and set in the 19th century is “a gay man — one who is hugely effete, very camp and very funny,” according to a source. “This latest script, set at a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable to be gay, is another significant turning point.”

Jack Whitehall, pictured at the BRIT Awards in February, landed a role in the upcoming film  Jungle Cruise, and he will reportedly be playing an openly gay character. (Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)

And while it’s definitely a turning point, there’s criticism online over casting an actor in the role who isn’t gay.

Though many also wondered whether an actor’s sexual orientation should matter when it comes to casting a role.

More than one person pointed to the backlash over Scarlett Johansson playing a transgender character in the film Rub and Tug. She eventually pulled out of the project.

And some compared the discussion to the debate over whether Idris Elba, who is black, should be cast as James Bond.

Meanwhile, Whitehall is settling into life on the set of a movie that, for better or worse, is making him a household name. He shared a video of the Rock on set and wrote that it is an honor to be part of the “epic adventure.” The self-professed “Disney nerd” said he’s having “the time of my life.”

In 2017, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast featured what was considered the first “gay moment” in a Disney film when the character LeFou, played by Josh Gad, displayed “confused” feelings for leading man Gaston. However, it was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bit. This Jungle Cruise news comes just days after openly gay actress Ruby Rose made headlines for being cast as lesbian superhero Batwoman for the CW. That hasn’t been without drama either. She deleted her Twitter account over the weekend because of cruel remarks.

Reps for Whitehall and Disney have not yet responded to requests for comment.

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