Connect with us

Arts & Entertainment

Marvel actor reveals ‘The Eternals’ will feature married gay superhero

Published

on

Haaz Sleiman will play the husband of gay superhero Phastos in Marvel’s upcoming “The Eternals” (Image via Instagram)

It looks like Marvel is finally going to deliver on its promise to provide substantive LGBTQ representation in its “cinematic universe.”

Actor Haaz Sleimann, who is openly gay, was speaking to LGBTQ media outlet NewNowNext for a profile story when he revealed that he will be portraying the husband of a gay superhero in the studio’s upcoming film, “The Eternals,” slated for a November 2020 release.

Sleimann, 43, has recently garnered attention for his role as a gay Syrian refugee in Apple+ TV’s anthology series “Little America,” and previously made headlines in 2017 when he came out not only as gay but as a “total bottom.”

In the interview, Sleimann mostly talks about his episode of “Little America” and his starring role in the upcoming LGBTQ rom-com, “Breaking Fast,” but in discussing the increased presence of positive role models for queer young people since his own youth, he segues onto the subject of his casting in “The Eternals,” casually dropping the big news.

“I just shot a Marvel film with the first openly gay superhero… I’m married to the gay superhero Phastos (…) and we represent a gay family and have a child.”

Phastos, as previously announced, will be played by Brian Tyree Henry, known for his roles in the FX series “Atlanta” (as the rapper Paper Boy) and in the film “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Henry has not publicly spoken about his own sexuality, but in a trailer for “The Eternals” that debuted at a Comic Con in Brazil in December, he was seen holding the hand of another man, leading to assumptions – now confirmed by Sleimann – that the character was gay.

MCU President Kevin Feige has previously expressed his frustration over the shortage of LGBTQ characters in the franchise’s films, and told an audience in New York last October that “a forthcoming movie” would include LGBTQ representation, after previously announcing plans for queer storylines in both “The Eternals” and the upcoming “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which will reportedly feature Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie character in a relationship with another woman.

The studio’s previous attempts at inclusion, like those made in other Disney-owned franchises, have fallen far short of expectation by remaining vague about the sexuality of the characters in question or relegating the “gay moment” to a brief, blink-and-you-miss-it onscreen reference, this one will feature a same-sex kiss.

According to Sleimann, that won’t be the case in “The Eternals.” Asked by NewNowNext if there will be a kiss between Phastos and his husband, the proud queer Muslim actor, who left his native Lebanon at 21 to escape the country’s oppressive and dangerous homophobia, answers enthusiastically.

“Oh, yeah, absolutely, and it’s a beautiful, very moving kiss,” he discloses. “Everyone cried on set. For me it’s very important to show how loving and beautiful a queer family can be.”

Of his co-star, he says, “Brian Tyree Henry is such a tremendous actor and brought so much beauty into this part, and at one point I saw a child in his eyes, and I think it’s important for the world to be reminded that we in the queer community were all children at one point. We forget that because we’re always depicted as sexual or rebellious. We forget to connect on that human part.”

“The Eternals” depicts a group of superhumans who have obtained their powers through genetic alteration by an alien race known as the Celestials. It features at least eleven super-powered characters, and among the actors are Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, and Kumail Nanjiani.

It will appear in movie theaters on November 6.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Theater

‘Rose: You Are Who You Eat’ an irreverent romp at Woolly Mammoth

Solo performance by John Jarboe offers much to consume

Published

on

John Jarboe in ‘Rose: You Are Who You Eat’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. (Photo by Teresa Castracane)

‘Rose: You Are Who You Eat’
Though June 23
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
641 D St., N.W.
$60-$82
Woollymammoth.net

With “Rose: You Are Who You Eat,” a solo performance by John Jarboe (she/her), now at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, there’s a lot to uncover and consume.  

For much of the show, the appealing Jarboe comes across as a cute cis gay guy playing dress up in a pair of tighty-whities and sparkly go-go boots, but it’s something else and she’s ready to go there. 

Jarboe is a cannibal. Not in the usual sense. She learned from a well-meaning aunt that while still in the womb, she ate her twin, and that’s what made Jarboe the way she is (a reference to gender queerness).

Despite the aunt’s awkward delivery of family dish, the prenatal news struck a chord with Jarboe: the vanishing twin who would have been named Rose, became increasingly connected to her own identity. Along with the inevitable jokes about eating her sister’s spaghetti thin hair and tasty eyeballs, there’s meaty matter unfolding onstage. 

Not entirely unexpected, Jarboe also harbors mommy issues. Mom, here referred to as “Mother” for the sake of anonymity, is a buttoned-down tax accountant who the more perturbed she becomes the wider her forced smile grows. And while Jarboe needs to have that long overdue talk with Mother, something always seems to get in the way; invariably it’s tax season.

Assisted by some primary source props (a baby book, notes, a string of pearls filched from Mother’s jewelry box), Jarboe further digs into gender expression and identity. Her performance career began in her child bedroom closet with a flashlight and makeshift costume, an obsession to which her parents initially subscribed, later not as much. 

Among the 75-minute-long show’s highlights are five or so songs, rock numbers and redolent ballads composed by Jarboe, Emily Bate, Daniel de Jesús, Pax Ressler and Be Steadwell. 

It’s definitely a solo show conceived and delightfully performed by Jarboe; however, she’s supported by a terrific four-person band (costumed in what appeared from Row D to be rosebush inspired jumpsuits) including Mel Regn, Yifan Huang, Daniel de Jesús, and music director Emily Bate. Bate is a singer, composer and performer who runs a queer and trans community chorus in Philadelphia called Trust Your Moves, an experiment in collective singing designed around liberation and co-creation.

As Jarboe moves into her 30s, she celebrates and incorporates her lost twin as part of herself with a new intensity. She writes letters, yearning for even the most tepid reply. Her obsession with Mother remains a thing too.

Dressed in a sylphlike rosy red gown (by costume designer Rebecca Kanach) Jarboe uses call-and-response (with the audience standing in for Mother) in search of some resolution. It’s beautifully done. 

With various kinds of backing coming from CulturalDC, the Washington Blade, Capital Pride, the Bearded Ladies Cabaret and other New York-based groups, there’s nothing itinerant cabaret looking about “Rose.” Directed by MK Tuomanen, it’s an elevated, visually engaging production. 

For instance, set and video designer Christopher Ash’s projections shown on both a serviceable scrim and later a wondrously huge toile curtain, beautifully feature photos from an ostensibly idyllic Midwestern childhood. We see a young Jarboe not only enjoying hockey, fishing, and hunting, but also pulling off a strikingly girly, cheesecake pose.  

At the top of the show, there’s live video of Jarboe’s outsized mouth devouring wings fished from a bucket of fried chicken. Hints of cannibalism? 

“Rose: You Are Who You Eat” is an irreverent romp, deeply personal yet relatable. It’s an evening of poignantly performed moments, off the cuff laughs, and some awkward/sexy audience interaction. 

As a performer, Jarboe lays herself bare, exposing strengths (rich melodious voice, presence, ingenuity) and weaknesses (garrulity and more than a few un-landed jokes) in equal turns. 

Hers is a world that invites audiences to just let go and go with it. Jarboe’s intrepid journey melds the familiar and the startling. In short, it’s a trip worth taking. 

Continue Reading

Photos

PHOTOS: Capital Pride Festival and Concert

Keke Palmer, Billy Porter among entertainers

Published

on

Billy Porter performs at the 2024 Capital Pride Festival on Sunday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The 2024 Capital Pride Festival and Concert was held along Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest D.C. on Sunday, June 9. Performers included Sapphira Cristál, Keke Palmer, Ava Max, Billy Porter and Exposé.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Continue Reading

Out & About

Get ready for Baltimore Pride

Events scheduled throughout weekend

Published

on

Baltimore Pride Parade (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Baltimore Pride begins this weekend on Friday, June 14 in the heart of the city.

There will be a variety of events, the main ones being Mt. Vernon Pride on June 14 at 2 p.m. on the 200 Block of W. Read St., the Parade and Block Party on Saturday, June 15 at 3 p.m. on N. Charles St., and Pride in the Park on Sunday, June 15 at 3 p.m. at Druid Hill Park.

For more event details, visit Baltimore Pride’s website

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular