Jared Leto was applauded at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival not only for his impressive performance in "Dallas Buyers Club" but also for his classy way to handle a heckler. When an attendee yelled that he had no business playing a transgendered woman in a movie because he's a man, he responded in a way that drew cheers from the other guests.
The incident happened when the 30 Seconds to Mars lead singer took the stage for a Q&A session at the annual event during which he was honored with Virtuosos Award for his brilliant portrayal as HIV-positive Rayon. "Trans-misogyny does not deserve an award," exclaimed the heckler, who appeared to be a transgendered woman herself.
The actor immediately stopped his interview and asked the woman to clarify her comment. "You don't deserve an award for portraying a trans-woman, because you're a man," she retorted, to which he calmly replied, "Because I'm a man, I don't deserve to play that part? So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian - they can't play a straight part?"
When the woman insisted that straight people always played transgendered characters and got awards for it, the rocker argued back, "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 then invited the woman to continue their conversation backstage. They reportedly had a cordial chat along with her friend after the Q&A ended.
He was lauded at the festival along with fellow breakthrough stars like Michael B. Jordan ("Fruitvale Station"), Brie Larson ("Short Term 12"), June Squibb ("Nebraska"), Daniel Bruhl ("Rush"), Adele Exarchopoulos ("Blue Is the Warmest Color"), and Oscar Isaac ("Inside Llewyn Davis").
During the onstage interview, Leto talked about meeting a 14-year-old German boy, who had been born a girl, on a tour with his band. "To me, I thought [this movie] was an opportunity to put a different kind of character on screen," he said of how the encounter inspired his portrayal of Rayon.