James Bond and Cloud Atlas actor Ben Whishaw has never shied away from playing gay or sexually fluid characters, but he’s always kept his private life close to his chest until exactly a year ago today, when his representatives confirmed that he had entered a civil partnership with another man in 2012.
With Whishaw’s film, Lilting, hitting UK cinemas this week, the actor has been talking to The Sunday Times about the difficulties of coming out – something that’s particularly relevant to the movie, where he plays a man grieving for his dead boyfriend, who also has to deal with the fact his partner’s mother never knew her son was gay (you can read our review from the film’s BFI Flare screening here).
Whishaw says of the difficulties of coming out, “It is hard, I applaud anyone who does it. There is so much tension around doing something like that, that maybe you’re not quite thinking rationally. You can say absurd things because you are in a panic.”
Talking of his own experiences coming out to his parents, he says, “I did have to. It’s a phrase I’m not entirely comfortable with, but since it’s the only one we have… My experiences were not dramatic. No walking around the block [which happens in Lilting]. And everyone was surprisingly lovely. I hadn’t anticipated that they would be, but they were.
“I identify with the character in Lilting in as much as I had a lot of fear in doing it for a long time. And who can say what? I’m not sure I know. But it takes courage and people have to do it in their own time, which is a negotiation you see happening in the film.
“It’s hard to have a conversation with people you’ve known your whole life about a very intimate thing. It’s massively weighted with all sorts of stuff, whatever the wider world is saying… It’s an intimate and private and difficult conversation for most people.”
Whishaw still has no wish to be an open book, as he still doesn’t like to discuss the specific of his own relationship with Mark Bradshaw