Jared Leto engages heckler protesting his transgender performance in 'Dallas Buyers Club'

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Image Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Jared Leto’s interview at Tuesday night’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso Awards was interrupted by a heckler who yelled that Leto had no right to play the transgender character in Dallas Buyers Club. “You don’t deserve an award!” the heckler said, according to multiple reports from the event. “Trans-misogyny does not deserve an award!”

Leto calmly engaged with the heckler, who witnesses identified as a transgender woman. “Because I’m a man, I don’t deserve to play that part?” Leto asked, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian — they can’t play a straight part?”

The two went back and forth, with the heckler complaining that straight actors win awards for playing transgender characters. Leto turned the tables, saying, “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 invited the heckler to continue their conversation after his interview, and according to The Wrap, the two later engaged in a backstage “heart-to-heart.”

Afterwards, when Leto, Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, and June Squibb accepted their awards, Leto dedicated the evening to Philip Seymour Hoffman, calling the late actor, “a brave and fearless genius — someone who was a compass for all of us, and someone who will really be missed.”

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