By Rachel DeSantis / New York Daily News
Disney may be cruisin’ for a bruisin’ with its latest casting choice.
The House of Mouse has reportedly cast British comedian Jack Whitehall in the upcoming film “Jungle Cruise” as the studio’s first openly gay character — but the decision has been met with backlash, as Whitehall is straight.
News of Whitehall coming on board was first reported by British tabloid The Sun, which claimed the actor would be playing a “hugely effete, very camp” gay character.
“This is a huge gig for Jack and has landed him his biggest ever paycheck,” a source told the outlet. “But, more excitingly, he is playing a gay man… It’s a dream role. Disney’s always been incredibly supportive of the LGBTQ community.”
Whitehall, 30, is reportedly set to the play the brother of Emily Blunt’s character. She stars alongside Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson in the film, which is based on the popular Disney Parks riverboat ride.
But not all were pleased with the decision to bring on the star, including actor Omar Sharif Jr.
“Really Disney #JungleCruise ? Your first significant gay role will be played by a straight white man perpetuating stereotypes? Fail! This ship should sink,” he wrote on Twitter.
Actor Chris Salvatore wrote similar, sarcastically claiming it was “so hard” to find gay actors to play gay roles in Hollywood.
Gay TV personality James Barr expressed excitement, but was hesitant to celebrate, considering the large number of gay actors frequently turned down for straight roles.
“Super excited about this huge moment for the LGBTQ+ family, and jackwhitehall is amazing…BUT when so many gay actor friends of mine are turned down for straight roles because there’s a ‘whiff of gay’, it’s frustrating to cast NonGay people in gay roles,” he wrote.
Others did defend Whitehall, citing other pop culture examples of gay actors playing straight characters.
“If Jack Whitehall playing a gay character is problematic, then so is Neil Patrick Harris playing the straightest character I’ve ever seen on a TV show, or Jim Parsons playing THE STRAIGHT Sheldon Cooper, or the cast of Black Panther because they’re American not African,” user NotBrandonLee wrote.
“Jungle Cruise” is set for release in October 2019.
Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While Whitehall’s character may be the first openly gay man in a Disney film, the character of LeFou in last year’s “Beauty and the Beast” was also gay — at least, according to director Bill Condon, who said he harbored a crush on pal Gaston.
Similar casting controversies have erupted in recent months, most notably with Scarlett Johansson, who faced backlash after being cast as a transgender man in the film “Rub & Tug.”
Johansson eventually dropped out of the project, citing “ethical questions” that surrounded her role.
“Orange is the New Black” star Ruby Rose was also driven off social media after she was cast as a lesbian Batwoman on The CW.
Fans accused the Australian star — who came out at age 12 — of not being “gay enough” for the role.