Who Is Jack WhiteHall? New Details On The Actor Facing Backlash After Being Cast As Disney's First Openly Gay Character

Photo: getty
Who Is Jack WhiteHall? New Details On The Actor Facing Backlash After Being Cast As Disney's First Openly Gay Character

The relationship between Hollywood and social media has become somewhat of a minefield lately, especially when it comes to casting actors in major studio films. With social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook now available to give moviegoers a bigger voice, film fans now have a direct impact on shaping casting decisions.

The latest actor to receive criticism on social media for his casting in a Hollywood film is British comedian Jack Whitehall.

Jack has been cast in the upcoming Disney film Jungle Cruise, which is based on the theme park ride. Whitehall, who is straight, will be playing Disney's first openly gay character. 

The film's cast also includes Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Emily Blunt, Paul Giamatti, and Edgar Ramirez.

According to The Guardian, Jack's role will be the brother of Emily Blunt's character. 

Although the decision to have an openly gay character in a Disney film is a significant moment, much of the criticism is in response to casting a straight actor to play the part — especially when many LGBTQ+ actors already feel underrepresented when it comes to acting opportunities. 

Just last month, Avengers actress Scarlett Johannson was met with the same online backlash when it was announced that she would be playing a transgender role in Rub & Tug. She eventually pulled out of that film. 

Jungle Cruise was not the only Disney film to spark controversy for it's casting decision recently. The studio's live-action adaption of Aladdin was also criticized for casting Naomi Scott, a non-Arab actress, as Princess Jasmine. 

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In the case of Disney's Jungle Cruise, adding fuel to the fire is a report from The Sun in which a source says Jack's character is "is hugely effete, very camp and very funny," which many critics online have deemed as a reinforcement of stereotypes.

Only time will tell whether or not Jack will decide to stick with the film despite the controversy.

In the meantime though, here are five details to know about Jack Whitehall, who is set to play Disney's first openly gay character in Jungle Cruise

1. He is a stand-up comedian.

Although Jack Whitehall has made a name for himself as a comedian over in the U.K., he is not yet as well-known in the United States. He began getting into stand-up comedy while in college and eventually decided to drop out to pursue it full-time.

He was a finalist in the So You Think You're Funny? comedy competition and was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Chortle Awards in 2008.

In addition to performing stand-up comedy, Jack has appeared in the series Fresh Meat, Bad Education, and Bounty Hunters

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2. He was in a six-year relationship with actress Gemma Chan.

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Jack dated the British actress and former model from 2011 to 2017 after the two of them met on the series Fresh Meat.

According to a report from The Mirror, their split was due to their busy schedules. Gemma has some impressive film credits coming up herself with roles in major Hollywood films like Crazy Rich Asians, Mary Queen of Scots, and Captain Marvel

3. He auditioned for the role of Harry Potter.

While Jack is doing just fine for himself now, his career trajectory could have taken a very different turn years ago. When producers were looking to cast the title role of Harry Potter for the film adaptations of the popular book series, Jack was one of the many young actors who auditioned for the part. 

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4. He was a classmate of Twilight actor Robert Pattinson.

Jack and Robert Pattinson, who is famous for playing teen vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight movie franchise, both attended the Tower House school in West London. Before pursuing stand-up comedy, Jack had his sights set on being an actor, but Robert always beat out the comedian to get the lead role in school productions. 

Jack has previously discussed his time at school with the Twilight actor during his stand-up shows. 

5. He comes from a show business family.

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Jack's father, Michael Whitehall, is an agent and producer and at one time, he represented Dame Judi Dench. His mother is actress Hilary Gish, who has appeared alongside Jack in the series Bad Education as well as The Bad Education Movie. 

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Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer and Michigan native. When she's not writing, Jill enjoys Zumba class, travel, and referencing classic Seinfeld episodes.