True Blood is a show known for its controversial scenes, particularly in regards to sex. Being on a platform like HBO, this show is able to take risks in regards to sex and violence, as well as more progressive issues such as gay rights. Open sexuality has been apparent in the show from the beginning by featuring an openly gay character, Lafayette, and the sexual choices of vampires in bedding who they so desire, regardless of gender.
One cast member allegedly couldn’t handle the sexual turn his character took, and chose to leave the show. I’m referring to Luke Grimes, who departed fairly quickly after only seven episodes on the award-winning show. The departure was initially portrayed as a scheduling conflict for his role in the upcoming 50 Shades of Gray film and another film American Sniper. However, it eventually came to light that Grimes departed due to a shift in his character. Originally, his character James was only to be involved with young, female vamp Jessica. When the show wanted to change James to engage with male Lafayette, Grimes balked, preferring Lafayette to be interested in him but with no homosexual scenes.
There are several ways to approach this situation. And I want to touch on all the angles and give it fair representation before I give my earnest opinion.
Did Luke Grimes have a contract? Other web pages are stating he did, but no one involved has stated that conclusively. But obviously he knew what kind of show True Blood was before going into it. He could have asked what their plan for the character was. It doesn’t mean they would have told him, but he could have made his feelings known in advance. He might have done so, I don’t know. If he broke a contract, it is pretty shady behavior. Other shows might be wary to hire you if they fear you’ll break contract because you don’t like the direction the show takes. Higher ups have creative license over a project, and if you have a contract, you should stick to it, no matter what direction they take. Because that’s the point of a contract.
The issue of homosexuality is a hot-button issue for some people. When you believe strongly against something, it’s hard to go along with it or wrap your head around seeing the other side of the issue. This idea applies to more than just sexuality; it is the entire basis of politics. I can’t fault him for standing for what he believes in, even if I disagree with it. I’d rather he stood for that than to stand for nothing. That being said, acting gay doesn’t make you gay. For instance, the actor Nelsan Ellis who plays Lafayette is straight in real life. Plenty of straight actors have played gay characters, and maybe they disagree with it but never said anything.
Acting is Luke Grimes’s job. As with many jobs, sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do. That’s life; that’s abundant in aspects of life. I don’t always want to get out of bed for work. I don’t want to stand around in a suit all day. If you don’t like your job, get another one. Which is what Grimes did; he didn’t like that job so he left to get another one. But, there’s a reason certain people don’t take jobs. For instance, I will never be a roller coaster inspector, because I’m deathly terrified of heights. Luke Grimes chose to be actor. He can choose to be picky about roles, but people might be less inclined to hire him. In Hollywood when you have more credits to your name, you can be pickier about what roles you take; Luke Grimes only has two small TV stints and some lesser known films to his name. Also we’ll never know if some unknown actor missed out on a chance to make it big because Luke Grimes took the role and then changed his mind, when that actor would have been willing to do a gay scene.
I think it’s unfair to the show and the rest of the cast if you sign a contract and back out of it, which I believe is probably the case. Civil court is loaded with this kind of thing all the time, just in a different area than acting. When you give your word, you should abide by it, whether you like it or not. If he was uncomfortable with doing a gay scene, then he has every right not to force himself to do something he’s uncomfortable with doing. That being said, you have to question why he’s opposed to doing it, and that he needs to realize that acting gay doesn’t make you gay. Straight actors play gay characters all the time, just like gay actors play straight characters all the time. Because it is acting, and if it makes you uncomfortable, get another job. Plenty of people have said that this will be the end of him in Hollywood, and I disagree. He will probably still have a career, but it will be mediocre, because Hollywood is known for being liberal. So no, his career won’t be over, but a lot of people will think twice before hiring him.
I’m disappointed in him that he couldn’t appreciate the role he was given and make the best of an unwanted situation. I’m sure plenty of other actors would do anything to be on such a show like True Blood. I’m ashamed of him that he couldn’t be more open-minded about the character or homosexuality. He doesn’t have to suddenly become best friends with a gay person or carry a rainbow flag, but he could have been open-minded enough to try the role. But mostly, I pity him for being unable to stick to his word and possibly his contract. Because I don’t trust people who go back on their word, and most other people don’t either.