Saturday 1 October 2016

Stonewall star Jeremy Irvine defends minorities' portrayal

Published 19/09/2015 | 08:45

Jeremy Irvine attends the world premiere of Stonewall in Toronto (AP)
Jeremy Irvine attends the world premiere of Stonewall in Toronto (AP)

War Horse actor Jeremy Irvine said he hoped to reassure people concerned about the portrayal of minorities in a new movie about the Stonewall riots as the film received its world premiere.

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In Stonewall, Independence Day director Roland Emmerich leaves big budget disaster films behind to address the epidemic of homelessness among LGBTQ youth, set during the time of the protests against discrimination in Greenwich Village in New York in 1969.

The release of the film's trailer in August prompted criticism that it focused on a white, gay man, played by Irvine, rather than the Latino and black transgender protesters such as Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, both of whom became prominent LGBT activists after the riots

Addressing the controversy surrounding the film at its unveiling at the Toronto International Film Festival, British actor Irvine said: "I think anything that helps bring awareness is only a good thing. With this movie and with all the press, I've been hearing the name Marsha P. Johnson so much, and Silvia Rivera, which you wouldn't be hearing so much.

"That is only a good thing and I'm really looking forward to all the people who had concerns about the movie seeing it and realising that we do represent them and Marsha P. Johnson is a part of it."

In the trailer for the film it looks like Irvine's fictional character is the one to throw the first brick that starts the riots. The perceived marginalising of the diverse trans activists who led the uprising prompted protesters to gather outside the premiere at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.

Irvine said: "It's a two-minute trailer, the support here is huge, I'm not in charge of film marketing, I think the trailer was misleading, My character does not start the Stonewall riots."

Emmerich, who attended the premiere with his boyfriend Omar de Soto, added: "People who protested the trailer, when have you ever seen that? When a trailer creates something like that? I totally understand where they are coming from, I think black transgender women are treated as badly as you can ever be treated, I understand their anger but I think they are to wrong to judge the movie based on the trailer."

The German director added that he was inspired to take on the story after he was encouraged by friends to seek out a more personal project after directing blockbusters Independence Day, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow and White House Down.

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