Tom Hanks has said he could not take on his landmark role in Philadelphia, where he portrayed a gay man dying of AIDS, in the present day.

In the 1993 film, Hanks played lawyer Andrew Beckett, a man who is fired from his job after his bosses discover his sexuality.

Speaking to The New York Times Magazine, the 65-year-old star said: "Let's address, 'Could a straight man do what I did in Philadelphia now?' No, and rightly so.

"The whole point of Philadelphia was: don't be afraid. One of the reasons people weren't afraid of that movie is that I was playing a gay man.

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"We're beyond that now, and I don't think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy."

Hanks described both Philadelphia and 1994 comedy-drama Forrest Gump, where he played a man with disabilities, as "timely movies, at the time, that you might not be able to make now". He was honoured with the Best Actor Oscar in 1994 and 1995 for his performances in the respective films.

Hanks made his comments during an interview to promote the new Elvis Presley biopic, in which he plays the music icon's manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

High-profile examples of straight performers playing LGBT characters include Rami Malek's Oscar-winning portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody and Taron Egerton's turn as Elton John in Rocketman.

Last year, acclaimed Welsh screenwriter Russell T Davies (It's a Sin, Doctor Who) said straight actors should not play gay characters on screen.

Amid the debate over who should be allowed to play what roles, Davies compared a straight actor playing a gay character to black face.

Source: Press Association

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