Alan Cumming attends the 37th Annual American Cinematheque Awards at The Beverly Hilton on February 15, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California Source: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for American Cinematheque

Alan Cumming Fingers 'X-Men United' as His Gayest Role, Calls It a 'Queer Allegory'

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

Talking about his favorite roles on the stage, on TV, and in the movies, Alan Cumming put the 2003 superhero flick "X2: X-Men United" at the top of his big gay list.

"Oh, I think the X-Men film I'm in is the gayest film that I've ever done, and that's me saying that," the host of the hit reality show "The Traitors" told Entertainment Weekly.

"It's got a queer director, lots of queer actors in it," Cumming went on to explain. "I love the fact that something so mainstream and so in the comic book world is so queer. I think, in a way, those sorts of films really help people understand queerness, because you can address it in an artistic way, and everyone is less scared of the concept."

"It's an allegory about queerness," Cumming added, "about people having these great gifts and really great, powerful things that they have to hide to exist."

One character in particular, Bobby Drake (Shawn Ashmore) (or "Iceman" as his X-Man moniker was known) rings a bell for LGBTQ+ audience members as he reveals to his family that he is a mutant. His mother's query? "Have you tried not being a mutant?"

"Queer people understand what that's all about," Cumming observed.

The comedian, actor, and memoirist cited plenty of other queer (or at least queer-adjacent) projects, including being on "The L Word" in 2006.

"It's so funny, whenever anyone says to me, 'I saw you on The L Word,' I always say, 'Oh, so you saw me getting f---ed up the ass by a lesbian with a strap-on, then,'" Cumming told EW. "And they just go, 'Hmm.' Because that's what happened to me, which is something of a TV first."

But it led to an unexpected fringe benefit, Cumming said.

"And one time I was in New York, and I went to this bar, and I was going in and they said, 'Oh, you can't come in. It's girls only. Lesbian night,'" the Scottish actor said. "And I was like, 'Oh.' And they went, 'Oh! Alan! You are an honorary lesbian. You can come in.' So I liked the fact that I got my lesbian chops, as it were."

Among his picks was his West End – and Broadway – role of the Emcee in "Cabaret."

Cumming described his response to being offered the role as, "Why are they asking me? Because at the time, in the early '90s when I did it in London for the first time, I didn't do musicals. I'd never done a musical before, and I was a little snobby about it."

The role proved a great success for Cumming, who was nominated for an Olivier Award for his work on the London stage in 1994, and went on to win a Tony for the role when the play transferred to Broadway in 1998.

"And so again, there's an example of why it's good to say yes to something new, something that scares you," Cumming reflected.

At the very top of his list was his current gig, "The Traitors," the fiendishly compelling reality competition show in which cast members are picked off one-by-one by assassins – the "Traitors" of the title – hidden in their midst. The non-Traitors among the cast – the "Faithful" – must work together to unmask the guilty parties. Or, if the villains are clever, the Faithful can be manipulated into counterproductive infighting as their numbers continue to dwindle. The last contestant standing wins a cash prize.

Cumming told EW he wasn't sure why he was approached to host the show. "But I met with them and I realized that it was because they kind of wanted me to be theatrical and camp, to play this larger-than-life character, and kind of create the mood of the whole show," he recounted. "Once I understood that, I was really on board."

Cumming reportedly is pushing for the next season of the hit show to be more inclusive. Last season, drag icon Peppermint was first to be exiled from the show after being falsely accused of being a "Traitor."

Also on Cumming's list: "Spice World" from 1997 and "Josie and the Pussycats" from 2001, which he referred to as "bonkers films on the queer scale..."

"Some of them were more coded than others," Cumming noted.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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