Zoolander 2 screenwriter and actor Justin Theroux swears he wasn’t trying to cause offense by creating the film’s androgynous character, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Last month, a trailer for the sequel — which stars Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson and will be out in February — resulted in a petition calling for the film to be boycotted.
The trailer features an androgynous character named All, who is asked “Are you a male or female model?” and whether they “have a hot dog or a bun.”
The petition has already garnered over 20,000 signatures.
Speaking to The Wrap, Theroux says:
“Our target is not, and never was, to disenfranchise anyone. I don’t even know what to make of it, because it hurts my feelings in a way. I take great care in the jokes I write, and the umbrage being taken is out of the context of the scene. I wish people would see the movie first. Satire is a thing that points out the idiots.”
The petition claims that “Cumberbatch’s character is clearly portrayed as an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals. This is the modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority.”