In an interview taped Friday for Live! With Kelly and Michael Mitt Romney said his favorite actor is Gene Hackman, particularly for his role in The Birdcage. So what? Old white guy likes old white guy, right? No! Romney, either on purpose or accidentally, is communicating very interesting messages about gay rights with this pick. Hackman's character in that movie is about a conservative Republican politican who learns to love gays. Mitt Romney is a formerly moderate Republican politician who unlearned to love gays. But maybe this is his way of signaling he could learn to love them again?
In the 1996 film, directed by Mike Nichols, a guy named Val wants to marry a girl named Barbara and thinks their families should meet. Barbara's dad is Ohio Republican Sen. Kevin Keeley, played by Gene Hackman, and he's so conservative he founded something called the "Coalition for Moral Order." Val's dad is a gay man, played by Robin Williams, who owns a drag club and lives with his partner, played by Nathan Lane. Since there's no way that their parents could possibly get along (this is movie logic, here), the young couple decide to pretend Val's parents are the kind of family the senator would approve of by having Lane pretend to be a woman. After the hilarity (and some singing) ensues, and just as the big gay secret is revealed at the end, paparazzi show up outside the house, and the only way to smuggle the senator out unnoticed is to dress him and his wife up in drag. Mutual understanding and respect is reached. The end.
According to ABC News' Emily Friedman, Romney said he loved this film. Friday's interview with Romney and his wife Ann went like this:
Kelly: Who would you pick to play each other in the movie?
Romney: Uh, let's see. Let me think about that. For me my favorite actor is Gene Hackman, so I'd like Gene Hackman.
Kelly: You'd like Gene Hackman to play your wife?
Romney: No to play me! Oh to play her? Oh! [laughter]
Kelly: Is this your first marital fight?
Ann: I bet Gene would really think that would be a great idea.
Romney: You know what was that movie he was in -- Birdcage -- when he… [crosstalk] no I think for her maybe Michelle Pfieffer.
When he ran for Senate in 1994, Romney assured the gay community of Massachusetts that he'd be a champion for their cause. I think the gay community needs more support from the Republican Party and I would be a voice in the Republican Party to foster antidiscrimination efforts," he told Bay Windows, a gay newspaper. Maybe by naming The Birdcage and the reformed Republican character in it, this is his very, very subtle way of saying he's ready to take up that cause again?
Meanwhile, a YouTube user has already imagined Hackmann playing Romney.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.