25 days ago the world-famous Tom Hanks, an industry A-lister for 35 years and a 65 year-old boomer looking to project an acceptance of the present, was quoted saying the following to the New York Times:

“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. We’re beyond that now, and I don’t think people would accept the inauthenticity of a straight guy playing a gay guy. It’s not a crime, it’s not boohoo, that someone would say we are going to demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity.”

Hanks’ Philadelphia character, Andy Beckett, a hotshot attorney working for a powerful Philly law firm, was professionally closeted but otherwise “out” as far as his family, nocturnal lifestyle and loft-sharing boyfriend (Antonio Banderas) were concerned. And if Jonathan Demme’s 1993 film were to be remade today, Andy would have to be played by a gay actor, Hanks seems to believe — no ifs, ands or buts. (He’d also have to be totally out, most likely.)

But what about Bradley Cooper playing Leonard Bernstein in the currently filming Maestro?

Bernstein was a gay man, and living a life not unlike Andy Beckett’s — publicly and professionally closeted, and accomodating himself to a “beard” marriage to Felicia Montealegre (whom he genuinely loved and with whom he had three kids) to further his career. But first, foremost and finally, in the words of Arthur Laurents, Bernstein was “a gay man who got married…he wasn’t conflicted about his sexual orientation at all…he was just gay.”

So if Andy Beckett was basically Leonard Bernstein and vice versa, will the authentic identity casting fascists be complaining next year that the apparently straight Cooper shouldn’t be playing the esteemed composer of West Side Story? Hanks has called this a settled issue — no more high-profile straight actors playing gay guys because “we’ve beyond that now” and the public is entitled to “demand more of a movie in the modern realm of authenticity.”

It is HE’s view, of course, that the “authentic identity casting fascists” are insane, and that gifted actors should be allowed to play anyone they want as long as they can pull it off, and that includes Hanks as Beckett, Hugh Grant as Maurice, Hillary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, William Hurt as the gay inmate in Kiss of the Spider Woman, Heath Ledger as Ennis del Mar and even Laurence Olivier as “the Mahdi” in Khartoum and Orson Welles as Othello. But that’s me.