Daniel Mays says he was ‘really shocked’ by Russell T Davies’ decision to only cast gay actors for gay roles in It’s a Sin

Daniel Mays has discussed the debate surrounding whether straight actors should be able to play gay roles.

The Des and White Lines actor, who played gay rights campaigner Peter Wildeblood in the BBC’s 2017 series Against the Law, said he was “shocked” by screenwriter Russell T Davies’s decision to only cast gay actors for gay roles in his groundbreaking Aids drama It’s a Sin.

“At the end of the day, you just want to play a part,” Mays told The Telegraph. “I thought It’s a Sin was an extraordinary piece of work, one of the best dramas I’ve seen in recent years.

“Russell T Davies is an exceptional writer. And it was his gig. And he was like, well, every one of these actors in it has to be gay.

“And I was really shocked at that, because I had an amazing experience playing Peter Wildeblood in Against the Law.”

He added: “If the BBC made that now, I’d never be cast in that role. And that to me is an absolute tragedy, because what is acting about?

“I was always inspired by the Daniel Day-Lewises and the Denzel Washingtons and the Robert de Niros, because, in each case, all of these incredible performances are coming from one person.

“That to me is the beauty of it. Against the Law was the most rewarding experience… but if that opportunity is taken away from you, then what’s the point? Am I just gonna play white Cockney boys for the rest of my life?”

Daniel Mays (Getty Images for Paramount Pictu)
Daniel Mays (Getty Images for Paramount Pictu)

Elsewhere in the interview, Mays talked about “cancel culture” in general, saying it makes him “very, very nervous”.

He also said he called up his White Lines co-star Laurence Fox, who has been criticised for his strong political views, and said, “You’ve got to stop tweeting… are you not worried about your career?”

Mays can next be seen on stage in Guys and Dolls at the Bridge Theatre, from 10 March.