West Wing Creator Aaron Sorkin Says Woke, Identity-Based Casting Is ‘Mother Of All Empty Gestures’

Though writer/director Aaron Sorkin is known for being a liberal, he isn’t on board with left-wing demands to only cast LGBT actors to play LGBT characters and he disagrees with the idea that performers of a specific ethnicity must play corresponding ethnic roles. In a recent interview with The Sunday Times, he said, “It’s heartbreaking and a little chilling to see members of the artistic community resegregating ourselves” when addressing prioritizing “representation” in casting.

The 60-year-old filmmaker’s comments came in response to criticism over his casting of actor Javier Bardem, who is Spanish, to play Cuban Desi Arnez in the new film, “Being the Ricardos.”

Sorkin, best known for TV shows like “The West Wing” and films like “The Social Network,” went on to add, “You can act being attracted to someone, but can’t act gay or straight. So this notion that only gay actors should play gay characters? That only a Cuban actor should play Desi? Honestly, I think it’s the mother of all empty gestures and a bad idea.”

Many in the entertainment media aren’t taking kindly to Sorkin’s classic liberal values.

MTV movie critic Hanna Ines Flint condemned his comments as insensitive, saying, “Aaron Sorkin doubling down by calling the need for representation ‘resegregation’ now. It’s heartbreaking to see a screenwriter I was a fan of be deliberately obtuse towards people’s valid criticisms.”

Lyra Hale, managing editor of Fangirlish, said, “Aaron Sorkin doesn’t understand that it’s not about only gay actors playing gay characters or only Cubans playing Desi. It’s about underrepresented communities having an opportunity to take a part in the stories being told with an authenticity others don’t understand. Simple.”

Bardem joined his director in defending his casting, saying there’s no reason he shouldn’t be allowed to play one-half of the iconic “I Love Lucy” couple.

“I’m an actor, and that’s what I do for a living: try to be people that I’m not,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.

He went on:

“What do we do with Marlon Brando playing Vito Corleone? What do we do with Margaret Thatcher played by Meryl Streep? Daniel Day-Lewis playing Lincoln? Why does this conversation happen with people with accents?

You have your accent. That’s where you belong. That’s tricky. Where is that conversation with English-speaking people doing things like The Last Duel, where they were supposed to be French people in the Middle Ages? That’s fine. But me, with my Spanish accent, being Cuban?’

What I mean is, if we want to open the can of worms, let’s open it for everyone. The role came to me, and one thing that I know for sure is that I’m going to give everything that I have.”

The Oscar winner, who has played everything from a sociopathic killer to a gay poet, finished with a joke, “’We should all start not allowing anybody to play Hamlet unless they were born in Denmark.”

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