"Spider-Man: Far From Home" starring Zach Barack – his first major movie role premiere and his debut as first transgender actor to appear in a Marvel Studios film , Variety spoke to the newcomer over the phone as he prepares to watch the finished movie for the first time at the Hollywood premiere.
"I'm child of losing my mind a little bit, but I'm acting like I'm not," Barack laughed.
"I'm not an expert in comics, but I've been growing up, you know, and they were important. And there's something very inherently trans about those stories, especially ones where identity and hidden identity is part of them, "he explained. " For example, Peter Parker's journey [in Spider-Man: Homecoming] is a lot about balancing being a teenager and having this other part of your life.
And that's just so trans, it's something that I absolutely think I've felt on a daily basis sometimes – especially being a transmasculine person because sometimes there's a pressure to do a different way than I feel want to fit in, and I have to fight that, "he continued.
In the upcoming Sony / Marvel movie, Barack plays Peter Parker's classmate, a friend of the secret superhero who gets caught up with the mysterious forces create mayhem worldwide. In a twist of fate, the newcomer was actually planning to spend a summer break at a Chicago restaurant. Instead, he landed the role of a lifetime, getting the call to audition for "Spider-Man" just two weeks before the epic began filming.
Since news of Barack's casting broke in January, he's been inundated with supportive reactions from fans praising the actor and the studio for the inclusive decision. Barack says watching "positive" to receive positive feedback, adding that he feels the responsibility of being involved in this important movement of LGBTQ representation in mainstream media.
Barack says watching Laverne Cox star on "Orange is the New Black." Transcription on screen: "I do not think I actually saw like a person that I consciously knew what 17, 18. "
" Before that the only thing I'd seen what 'Boys Do not Cry,' which does not have a trans person in it But, it's a really brutal story and the prospect of coming out that's not super exciting after seeing that, "he recalled. "I remember these messages of other people sort of being like, 'it's really meaningful' … I remember I cried the first time I saw one of those because I want to write those."
View this post on Instagram
I was 17 the first time I consciously saw a trans person on tv. It was the first time I had hope that I could do both. It was the first time I did not feel alone and, I can not stress this enough, it kept me alive. Before that, I'd just see "Boy's Do not Cry", a movie about being trans brutally murdered. For most of my life, I had little evidence that trans people existed, and I certainly did not see examples of professional success. There were so many times I thought about ending my life because I was so unhappy in my body. I was so angry at the world and myself. I never thought in my life I'm getting to see you in my own right – let alone cast in a Marvel movie. The support and love I've learned from trans kids reminded me how important this is for all of us. We need this and we need more. Today, we can not visibly trans or have no choice in their visibility. Today we keep in mind the trans people, namely trans women of color, who are not safe and who are being attacked and killed. It is not always easy or glamorous, but trans people are beautiful and a real gift to this world. Happy trans day of visibility, I love you all so much. #Transdaybeauty #tdov #transisbeautiful PC: @ tonyrevolori @remyhii @justgiveawhistle
In addition to more representation of trans characters, Barack says the increased exposure of LGBTQ allies has been powerful, noting that he's just as supportive off-screen.
"Zendaya is a very supportive person who understands the nuances of identity politics and is always going to be ally, but at the same time, her being a supportive person is still really , really meaningful because there are so many people, "Barack mused.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and producer Victoria Alonso have also been quoted saying LGBTQ representation in the Marvel universe, so Barack hopes his casting is the first of many strides forward for representation in the superhero films and the industry as a whole.
"So I want intersectionality," he said. "I'm hoping these characters can exist in a nuanced way … .I want to see myself on screen, so I want to see a trans superhero or a queer superhero. And I want to be hopefully someone who can make a living in that way – [to show] queer people are getting work too. But at the same time, I'm just happy these stories are being told. "
" Spider-Man: Far From Home "hits theaters on July 2.
Full Interview Here: