John Cleese is clarifying the status of a controversial and allegedly transphobic scene in film “Life of Brian.”
Cleese, who confirmed he is adapting the 1979 comedy into a stage play, responded to a Daily Mail report claiming that he was strongly encouraged to cut a sequence involving a man asking to be called Loretta and talking about wanting to give birth.
The “Monty Python” star took to Twitter to slam the “misreporting” over the scene potentially being cut to appease modern audiences.
“A few days ago I spoke to an audience outside London. I told them I was adapting the ‘Life of Brian’ so that we could do it as a stage show (NOT a musical),” Cleese wrote. “I said that we’d had a table-reading of the latest draft in NYC a year ago. All the actors — several of them Tony winners — had advised me strongly to cut the Loretta scene. I have, of course, no intention of doing so.”
Cleese added that the request to cut the Loretta scene is “ridiculous” and a reaction to potentially alienating ticket buyers.
“These were absolutely top-class Broadway performers and they were adamant that we would not get away with doing the scene in NYC!” Cleese tweeted. “Producers tend to be scaredy-cats, and they don’t remember that the protests in NYC when ‘Brian’ was released meant we never needed to do publicity!!”
Cleese, who was accused of being transphobic in 2020 after defending J.K. Rowling, has been adamant that “cancel culture” has curbed creativity in the comedic landscape, saying in 2022, “If you’re worried about offending people and constantly thinking of that, you are not going to be very creative. So I think it has a disastrous effect.”
Cleese continued at the time, “I think it’s particularly worrying at the moment because you can only create in an atmosphere of freedom, where you’re not checking everything you say critically before you move on. What you have to be able to do is to build without knowing where you’re going because you’ve never been there before. That’s what creativity is — you have to be allowed to build. And a lot of comedians now are sitting there and when they think of something, they say something like, ‘Can I get away with it? I don’t think so. So and so got into trouble, and he said that, oh, she said that.’ You see what I mean? And that’s the death of creativity.”
Cleese announced he was reviving sitcom “Fawlty Towers” earlier this year but shut down the concept of a reboot being a product of “wokery.”