‘Stonewall’ director defends his choice of ‘straight-acting’ hero for gay rights drama

Roland Emmerich says heterosexual cinema-goers will be able to 'feel' for his 'straight-acting' hero

Director Roland Emmerich has revealed that he gave his gay rights drama Stonewall a “straight-acting” hero in a bid to boost the film’s appeal to heterosexual cinema-goers.

Released in the US tomorrow, Emmerich’s film is based on the 1969 Stonewall Riots, a violent clash between New York City police officers and members of the LGBT community that took place at a gay bar in Greenwich Village and galvanised the burgeoning queer rights movement.

Emmerich’s film centres on a fictional character called Danny Winters, played by chiselled white English actor Jeremy Irvine, and the director has been accused of sidelining the contribution of black LGBT citizens, drag queens, “butch” lesbians and trans people during the historic Stonewall riots.

Explaining why Irvine’s character Danny is at the heart of his film, Emmerich told Buzzfeed: “You have to understand one thing: I didn’t make this movie only for gay people, I made it also for straight people. I kind of found out, in the testing process, that actually, for straight people, [Danny] is a very easy in.”

“Danny’s very straight-acting. He gets mistreated because of that. [Straight audiences] can feel for him,” Emmerich added.

Emmerich also admitted that he hasn’t been entirely taken back by criticisms levelled at his film, saying: “Some people warned me. But I said, ‘Well, you know, so be it.'”

Stonewall has yet to be given a UK release date. Watch the trailer below.