Charlie Carver has had a bittersweet year. It was all meant to be so different. Global press tours for Netflix’s much-anticipated Ratched and The Boys in the Band beckoned; filming for The Batman was due to wrap; a holiday promised to bookend a whirlwind couple of years where he could take stock of what’s been. But 2020 had other ideas. Instead, the 32-year-old handsome American found himself locked down in the UK far away from friends and home comforts, dialling into global press conferences on Zoom and well behind schedule on filming Batman. A holiday was off the cards. He’s not complaining though, primarily because he’s spent much of it with twin brother, Max.
“We’ve seen each other every day for the past three and a half months… Which isn’t to say we’ve ever taken one another for granted, but I don’t think we’ve been able to express gratitude for having one another like we have this year,” says Carver. “We’ve always spoken the same language, but now we have a tight shorthand.” Since coming out in 2016, there’s been something of a second coming for the actor previously known for roles in Teen Wolf, Desperate Housewives and The Leftovers. And like all of us, 2020 has provided time for a lot of reflecting.
(LEFT) Top by DIOR.
Top by DIOR.
“These past four years have been a continuous coming out for me. About who I am, what I stand for, and how to share that publicly,” Carver tells us proudly. “In these times, you have to.” Indeed, it’s his belief that we’re now witnessing an inflection point in history. “You’re looking at the climate crisis becoming manifest in the world, all sorts of age-old tensions are erupting around matters of race and inequity,” he says. “Throw this pandemic on top of it, along with the shitshow of all of this [Donald Trump] autocratic energy out there… It’s important to name it and acknowledge it. I just hope we can one day look back at this as the moment where people took stock and realised that our democracy is a fragile thing — that it’s a social contract. I hope we can look back at this time as a renewal of vows.” Career-wise, amid uncertainty and delayed projects throughout the year, if anything 2020 has really reinforced the value of art to him. “We would all be much poorer these past months without all of this great music, shows and films,” he says, “so I’m grateful to have had a bunch of stuff released that people seem to enjoy.”
The most prominent of those releases, and the one Carver’s most proud of, is Ryan Murphy’s The Boys in the Band alongside Zachary Quinto, Jim Parsons and Matt Bomer. Having starred in Joe Mantello’s stage production of the play in 2018 — originally an off-Broadway hit in 1968 by Mart Crowley about a group of gay men who gather for a birthday party in New York City — it’s received rave reviews and been widely celebrated for its cast at a time where representation in the industry is such a hot topic. “There is a tangible shift happening in [queer] representation on screen. And it is exciting to be in any way a part of it. I just happen to believe a character’s sexuality is foregrounded as the most interesting part of who they are… I think that’s very limiting in terms of the stories that can be told,” says Carver. “In 1970, [The Boys in The Band] characters… They were read as stereotypes. But today, especially having out actors playing those roles, suddenly we’re all afforded the opportunity to see these characters as individuals, not just representation of certain ‘types’ of gay men. I think that’s part of what made this production important and special.”
Top by DIOR.
Though The Boys was seen as groundbreaking in the 70s, 50 years on, the normalcy of being a gay Hollywood actor still has a long way to go “There’s still a real hesitancy to cast queer actors in straight parts, whereas straight men are celebrated for taking on queer roles. Celebrating them for an ability to transform into this state of difference. That can feel kind of gross,” says Carver candidly. “There have to be better efforts made to ensure that in the telling of queer stories, people from the community are included in the telling.”
That said, he agrees that irrespective of who is playing these roles, the more gay and queer stories out there in the world, the better, as it all goes towards helping combat homophobia, racism and transphobia. “I’m so grateful that in my lifetime, gay stories started being told with recognisable actors intended for wide release. I was 15 or 16 when I saw Brokeback Mountain,” he pauses as if to reminisce, “and that was transformative for me. Here were these two really handsome, talented guys just knocking those roles out of the park in a gay love story… I remember feeling like the world was changing for the better.”
Carver believes that in order for society to make better progress around understanding LGBTQ+ communities, straight folks have a responsibility to better educate themselves and thinks one of the best ways to do so is to take joy in the culture. “Drop the fear and inhibitions, expose yourself to something new, take it in, and find the joy in it. May the rest begin to follow.”
Next up for Carver will be the much-hyped The Batman alongside Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz. As excited as he is about it, he’s sworn to secrecy about everything but no doubt our patience will be rewarded when it’s released in 2022. “It’s been fun getting to do stunts, I’ll tell you that much,” toys Carver cheekily. We’ll take that.