When Jared Leto was confronted with a heckler Tuesday — one who questioned his being honored for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club” — the actor/musician responded in a manner that elicited applause from all those present.
Leto was honored this week at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Virtuosos Award tribute for his turn as Rayon, an HIV-positive transgender woman, in the Jean-Marc Vallée-directed flick. He was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the role, and has won a Golden Globe, among other accolades.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, one woman present, however, did not agree with the laurels being heaped upon the Thirty Seconds To Mars singer.
“Trans-misogyny does not deserve an award,” she announced during the tribute, adding, “You don’t deserve an award for portraying a trans-woman, because you’re a man.”
Leto responded: “Because I’m a man, I don’t deserve to play that part?…. So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian — they can’t play a straight part?”
The woman argued that straight people always win awards for playing transgender characters, to which Leto countered: “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.” The audience responded with applause.
Leto and the woman then chatted cordially after the event.
This isn’t the first time Leto has come under fire for his portrayal of Rayon and subsequent praise. Some outlets, like Salon, called Leto out for what they considered to be his overly light Golden Globe acceptance speech, in which he quipped, “I did not ever use any prosthetics in this film. That tiny little Brazilian bubble butt was all mine” and did not mention AIDS.
Leto did, however, release a statement following his Oscar nomination saying: “Today you not only honor me but also all those around the world living with AIDS and all those we have lost to this disease. Thank you for recognizing them and recognizing their struggle through ’Dallas Buyers Club.’ ”
Speaking with MTV News’ Josh Horowitz at the end of last year, Leto expounded on his dedication to the role.
“As soon as I learned about the role, I really couldn’t not play this part. And I felt it was time,” he said. “I remember thinking as well — I haven’t really admitted this yet, so you’re getting an exclusive here, Josh — but it was a test for me to see if I was gonna continue making films. So this was, this was actually a test.”