Reese Witherspoon has lashed out at a number of Hollywood leading men and women who refuse to play gay characters.

During an interview with PrideSource, the Legally Blonde actress said: “I think gay people are able to play straight roles; straight people are able to play gay roles. The whole point of being an actor is to transform.

“If people don’t understand that we need to be malleable in our sexuality, then I think they need to lighten up.”

The star is set to play opposite Sofia Vergara in upcoming film Hot Pursuit – in which the pair’s characters, at one point, have to pretend to be lesbians.

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She added: “I have a ton of lesbian friends, and I think any kind of women who relates to us or enjoys the movie – that’s awesome!

“The whole movie is: It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what your sexual orientation is, what you do for a living, what your ethnicity is – women are women, and we all have a lot in common.

“It’s liberating because it’s not all about our characters’ romantic lives or that we’re chasing men – it’s that we’re running for our lives and we have to figure out a way to get along so that we survive.”

Comedian Kevin Hart said in January that he would refuse to play a gay character, and had turned down a role in Tropic Thunder because it involved homosexuality. He said: “I feel I can’t [play a gay character] because I don’t think I’m really going to dive into that role 100 percent, because of the insecurities about myself trying to play that part. What I think people are going to think while I’m trying to do this is going to stop me from playing that part the way I’m supposed to.”

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