Why Wentworth Miller Says He’s Done Playing Straight Roles
Actor, writer, and producer Wentworth Miller says the straight man's story has been told (and told).
A lot fo people don’t know this, but Wentworth Miller was almost Superman. People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive is undeniably a beautiful, blue-eyed, 6 foot 1, and openly gay man who announced a couple of years ago that he’s tired of playing straight roles.
Miller stated, “The straight man’s story has been told.” His television success trumps his film accomplishments, but he’s got acting chops that are on par with his striking looks. From Prison Break to the silver screen, Miller acts, writes, and produces but refuses to accept another acting role written for a heterosexual man.
Wentworth Miller’s Eclectic Body of Work
With cameo appearances as Mariah Carey’s significant other in music videos and successful projects like 2014’s The Flash, and the dark thriller, The Loft, released in the same year, about five heterosexual married men who buy a secret pad for their sexual rendezvouses, Miller has shown his range and amassed a huge and dedicated following over the years. But the azure-eyed actor became best-known and beloved in 2005 as Michael Scofield.
Miller Scores Big With Prison Break
In the Fox network smash-hit Prison Break, Miller plays Scofield, a brilliant young man with an engineering career, money, and a high-rise apartment fit for a Wall Street tycoon, but tosses it all to break his less-than-respectable brother, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), out of prison and off of death row. While the two being brothers on the show is plausible because both are highly attractive, the camera adores Wentworth’s face. He steals every scene, but intimate settings between him and his love interest, Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies), are noticeably absent. Directors and producers of the series haven’t alluded to the reason for the lack of Michael-Sara love scenes, but it isn’t far-fetched to believe the star’s sexuality steers his comfort level.
Miller was not always a proud gay man. He speaks publicly about his struggles with homosexuality and how he contemplated suicide more than once. Although the actor discusses his father being in his life, he said he never had an example of how to be a man. But, his Prison-Break brother calls him a “thoughtful gentleman.” Purcell says he grew up with such brutes that he wasn’t used to a man with that temperament.
Prison Break filmed its first season in a real prison occupied by prisoners. Miller stated he enjoyed the scenes with Sara because he received a break from being around all the jailhouse testosterone. The show lasted five seasons, with two putting the Scofield character in a pair of the toughest slammers in the series — a Panama prison in season 3 and a Yemen lockup in season 5. When asked will he return for a sixth season, Miller responded, “If they do a season 6, it will be without me.”
No More Straight Roles for the Gay Actor
Part of rejecting straight characters in film and tv is attached to Miller’s mental health. The then 43-year-old actor awakened to a picture of his overweight physique juxtaposed with a previous and slender him. He took to social media, “In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low profile for several reasons. First and foremost, I was suicidal. Ashamed and in pain, I considered myself damaged goods. And the voices in my head urged me down the path to self-destruction. Not for the first time. I’ve struggled with depression since childhood. It’s a battle that’s cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights.” Miller explained that he was 15 years old when he made his first suicide attempt. “I waited until my family went away for the weekend, and, I was alone in the house,” reports Daily Star.
Miller came out as gay in 2013 and announced on Instagram that Prison Break was a wrap for him in 2017. According to the Gay Times, he wrote, “So. No more Michael,” Miller continued in his post. “If you were a fan of the show, hoping for additional seasons… I understand this is disappointing. I’m sorry.” The heartthrob then addressed his female fans, “If you’re hot and bothered bec you fell in love with a fictional straight man played by a real gay one… That’s your work.”
In Hollywood, where they snub Black actors for many desired parts (being underpaid if they get them), and sparse scripts for the LGBTQ community get more scanty, this is a bold stance for Miller.
As lead-footed as the gay movement is, their plight is evolving. Ponder the world 20 years ago and consider all the closeted politicians betraying wives, musicians humiliated in bathroom stalls, actors overwhelmed by red-carpet beards, and teenagers who perhaps weren’t as fortunate as Miller (these remain societal problems). He survived. Survival is one of the arguments for the importance of the arts, for it and all its players are motivational. The arts can not only inspire a child straight out of poverty, it can act as a reflection and even save a life.