Jared Leto caught the ire of a heckler on Tuesday while accepting one of the Santa Barbara Film Festival’s Virtuosos Awards for his performance as a transgender AIDS patient in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
As Leto was taking his seat after accepting the award, a woman yelled, “You don’t deserve an award. Trans misogyny does not deserve an award!” According to THR, Leto then rose from his seat and asked the protester to clarify her remarks. “You’re a man,” the heckler shouted. “You shouldn’t play a transgendered role!” Eyewitnesses told TheWrap that the audience member appeared to be a transgender woman.
Leto, who spectators say never appeared to be ruffled by the comments, responded by asking whether gay actors can play straight roles. The heckler asserted that straight people continually garner awards for portraying transgender characters. “Then you’ve made sure people that are gay, people that aren’t straight, people like the Rayons of the world would never have the opportunity to turn the tables and explore parts of that art,” Leto said as the audience applauded. He then invited the heckler backstage following the event’s interview session with the recipients to continue their discussion. “The door is open.”
Witnesses said the actor and the inciter did finish their discussion, with one reportedly telling TheWrap that they had a “heart-to-heart.”
Leto was among seven acclaimed performances to receive Santa Barbara’s Virtuosos Awards on Tuesday. The others were Daniel Brühl (“Rush”), Adèle Exarchopoulos (“Blue is the Warmest Color”), Oscar Isaac (“Inside Llewyn Davis”), Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”), Brie Larson (“Short Term 12”) and June Squibb (“Nebraska”). Brühl, Exarchopoulos and Isaac were not in attendance, reportedly citing work conflicts.