vote on everything
Entertainment
11.1m readers

Gay Actors Who Play Straight Characters

Updated January 28, 2020 11.1m views31 items

This list of gay actors who play straight characters is loosely ranked by fame and popularity. One of the great things about being an actor or public figure is you can play characters that are different from yourself. Several gay actors are famous for playing straight characters in film and on television. One gay actor is best known for playing a womanizing lawyer on a sitcom. 

Who is the most famous gay actor who has played straight characters? Rosie O'Donnell tops our list. The A League of Their Own star publicly came out in 2002. She has since been a fierce advocate for gay rights, same-sex marriage, and gay adoption rights. She has played several straight characters including Betty Rubble in The Flintstones. Portia de Rossi married talk show host Ellen DeGeneres in 2008. She has played several straight characters including Lindsay Bluth Funke on Arrested Development.

Neil Patrick Harris plays the womanizing Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother. Harris came out in 2006, saying, "I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love." Other openly gay actors who play straight characters include Jim Parsons, Ricky Martin, and Ellen Page. Featuring Hollywood celebrities, movie stars, public figures, male celebs, and actresses, this list has them all. 

Do you think that it is difficult for gay actors to play straight characters? How do you think the actors below performed?

Photo:
  • Neil Patrick Harris - Barney S is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Gay Actors Who Play Straight Characters
    Photo: Tinseltown / Shutterstock

    Actor Neil Patrick Harris is openly gay. He came out in 2006, saying, "I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love."

    He and his husband, David Burtka, have a twin daughter and son.
    From 2009-2014, Harris played notorious womanizer Barney Stinson on "How I Met Your Mother."

    • Age: 47
    • Birthplace: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America
    • Credits: How I Met Your Mother, Starship Troopers, The Smurfs, The Muppets, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

    More Neil Patrick Harris 

    16 Reasons Neil Patrick Harris Is The Most Interesting Dude In Hollywood#28 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World#112 of 272 The Best (Male) Actors Working Today

  • John Mahoney - Martin Crane is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Gay Actors Who Play Straight Characters
    Photo: Goosefriend / via Flickr

    John Mahoney does not speak publicly about his personal life, but it is widely believed that the actor is gay. He has played many straight characters in his career, including the twice-married Martin Crane on "Frasier."

    • Age: 80
    • Birthplace: Bispham, Blackpool
    • Credits: The Iron Giant, Frasier, Say Anything..., Moonstruck, Atlantis: The Lost Empire

    More John Mahoney 

    #259 of 461 The Best TV Actors of All Time#62 of 82 The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won An Emmy (For Acting)#2 of 18 The Best Frasier Actors

  • Jane Lynch - Paula is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Gay Actors Who Play Straight Characters
    Photo: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock

    "Glee" actress Jane Lynch is openly gay and a big supporter of gay rights. She played one half of a hilarious lesbian couple in the comedy Best in Show, but she has played several straight characters, including helpfully horny Paula in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

    Lynch was married to Lara Embry from 2010 to 2014.

    • Age: 60
    • Birthplace: Evergreen Park, Illinois, USA
    • Credits: Glee, Wreck-It Ralph, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Role Models

    More Jane Lynch 

    #132 of 233 The Funniest Stand Up Comedians Of All Time#182 of 339 The Funniest People Of All Time#204 of 853 The Best Actresses in Film History

  • The openly gay Welsh actor has played many straight characters. Most recently, Luke Evans starred as the narcissistic chauvinist Gaston in Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast. Evans is also well known for his role as Owen Shaw in the Fast & Furious franchise where he played Michelle Rodriguez's boyfriend. 

    • Age: 41
    • Birthplace: Aberbargoed, United Kingdom
    • Credits: Dracula Untold, Fast & Furious 6, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Raven

    More Luke Evans 

    #274 of 301 The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting)#817 of 1,030 The Best Actors in Film History#13 of 43 The Top Casting Choices for the Next James Bond Actor

PeopleActorsLGBTQ+EntertainmentCelebritiesGaytop 10Celebrity Factstop 25