Last week we got a cover profile of Ewan McGregor in advance of his new Netflix series Halston, about the 1970s fashion designer-icon. Now we have a trailer to give us a taste of McGregor as Halston. Look, he seems fantastic. He’s a great actor, the quality of the performance is never a problem with Ewan McGregor. But this is EXACTLY what Billy Porter was talking about, straight actors taking LGBTQ+ roles that out gay actors don’t have an equal shot at landing themselves. Halston looks lavish, dramatic, a little bit tawdry, a lot sensational—it’s a recipe for catching nominations. McGregor is giving great 1970s high-steeze sleaze here, even approximating Halston’s affected way of speaking. But I can’t stop thinking about the out gay actor who could play this gay icon to great acclaim, but never stood a real chance of getting the role. Like at some point, some straight actors are just going to have to pass on roles so other people have a chance. No, it’s not fair, but neither is the lack of access to these roles for out gay actors. (I keep thinking about Matt Bomer in this role and wondering what that looks like. He’s a great actor, too, but he does not get Ewan McGregor opportunities.) I just wonder when we start INSISTING that the work be done to create equitable opportunities and stop making X, Y, Z excuse why THIS time is an exception but surely, the NEXT role will be truly open to everyone.
Anyway, Halston is here and it’s happening with Ewan McGregor. I have my reservations about a Ryan Murphy joint, but at least as a commercial, Halston looks good. I am especially into the glimpses of the “Battle of Versailles”, the 1973 fashion show that pitted American versus French fashion designers. It was a fundraising event to restore the Palace of Versailles, and the French, including Yves Saint Laurent, Ungaro, and Givenchy, put on a traditional, stuffy, two-and-a-half-hour show. Then the Americans, Anne Klein, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Halston, and Stephen Burrows—one of the first Black American designers whose works sold internationally—stormed the stage with a coterie of models, including almost a dozen Black models, unheard of at the time, and basically invented contemporary American fashion AND supermodels in one night. (There’s a documentary on YouTube narrated by Stanley Tucci, I recommend it.) It looks like the Battle of Versailles is going to feature in Halston, which raises my interest significantly. This is one of my “I’d travel back in time to be there” moments for sure. Halston looks promising, but I continue to be low key amazed that despite all the conversations about inclusivity and equal opportunity, roles like this are neither inclusive nor equally opportunistic.