Michael Urie Makes the Yuletide Homosexual in Netflix's ‘Single All of the Means’

Michael Urie Makes the Yuletide Gay in Netflix's ‘Single All the Way’

When Michael Urie first auditioned to star in Netflix’s queer vacation rom-com Single All of the Means, he realized he was up for the flawed half: Nick, the handyman who travels residence for the vacations along with his greatest buddy Peter. The actor shot to fame within the aughts after enjoying Marc St. James on the ABC dramedy Ugly Betty from 2006 to 2010, has starred in Broadway productions together with Achieve Enterprise With out Actually Attempting and Hen & Biscuits, and made appearances on tv reveals together with Youthful and The Good Spouse. However when he was approached by Single All of the Means screenwriter Chad Hodge, he instantly felt the character he would audition for simply wasn’t a great match. “I appeared on the character description and it was a ruggedly good-looking handyman, gruff and difficult across the edges,” he tells W over a Zoom name. “And I used to be like, oh, this is not actually me. However I will discover my means into it.”

He did discover his means, proper into the movie’s different lead position. As a substitute of Nick, he performs Peter, a Los Angeles-based social media supervisor who’s obsessive about crops and a complete catch. (He’s additionally perpetually single, regardless of having a inexperienced thumb.) At first, he wasn’t positive if a few of his friends (Neil Patrick Harris, Andrew Rannells, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, to call just a few) may need already nabbed this “charming, neurotic, gregarious” lead position. However as soon as Hodge caught wind of Urie’s curiosity in Peter, he landed the half with out an audition. “In present enterprise, so typically, we’re simply type of anticipated to do what we’re instructed, and never push again. It labored in my favor this time round,” Urie says. “I pushed again a bit bit and I obtained the job.”

Though he says Christmas films are extra up his accomplice’s alley, Urie acknowledges the importance of showing in a Netflix vacation movie with a homosexual couple on the heart. It’s the first of its sort from the streaming service, which has churned out stockings stuffed with heterosexual Christmas content material, together with A Christmas Prince in 2017 (adopted by A Christmas Prince: The Royal Marriage ceremony and A Christmas Prince: The Royal Child) and The Princess Change trilogy, during which Vanessa Hudgens performs three (straight) individuals. Single All of the Away is an “thrilling milestone” for Urie. “It’s a world devoid of homophobia,” he says. “There may be by no means a second on this film when anybody is fearful about being homosexual or ashamed of being homosexual. The issues are to not do with sexuality. The issues are to do with not having the ability to preserve a relationship, which isn’t only a homosexual factor—it [can be] a homosexual factor, however it’s not simply a homosexual factor. Straight individuals have that drawback, too.”

In Single All of the Means, Peter travels to rural Vermont to go to his charming, quirky, and barely overwhelming household stuffed with the sort of individuals you’d sincerely consult with as “characters.” He brings his shut pal Nick (newcomer Philemon Chambers) alongside for the journey, and though the story follows the identical predictable beats we’ve seen in vacation rom-coms for many years, watching those self same occasions unfold with a homosexual couple is refreshing. It additionally helps that Urie’s different co-stars within the movie are Jennifer Coolidge, Barry Bostwick, Kathy Najimy, and Jennifer Roberston.

The movie’s references are additionally particular to a homosexual viewers, reasonably than pandering to a straight one. Take the scene during which Urie pays homage to a different movie beloved by the queer neighborhood, for instance. He utters the phrase “flames, flames, on the facet of my face,” which is a heavily-memed line of Madeline Kahn’s from the 1985 camp classic, Clue. Each Clue and Kahn are vital to Urie—the road was added into the script by Hodge, who requested the actor if he knew about Clue. Urie replied, “Should you’re about to offer me ‘flames, flames on the facet of my face,’ then I will likely be in your debt perpetually.”

Urie additionally can’t assist however gush for a number of minutes about Coolidge, who seems within the movie as his Aunt Sandy. Earlier than capturing Single All of the Means, the 2 had met just a few occasions however by no means carried out on-screen collectively, regardless of each starring within the 2021 movie Swan Tune from director Todd Stephens. Having seen her physique of labor and studying her position within the screenplay for Single All of the Means, Urie thought he knew what to anticipate from Coolidge within the movie. However he was flawed: Coolidge’s efficiency, which incorporates donning Christmas tree ornaments as earrings howling at babies throughout a small vacation stage manufacturing within the movie, was so surprising that it gave him a newfound appreciation for her. “I understand how actors work, however I could not clarify how her mind works,” he says with utter fascination lighting up his face, trying to understand Coolidge’s model of unpredictable comedy. “I do not understand how she comes up with that stuff. One thing magical occurs, and he or she is having essentially the most enjoyable of anybody. It’s a really, really, really pleasant expertise working along with her. I want I had extra along with her. I imply, I hope we do a Single All of the Means 2.”

Urie can also be keen to debate the affect that starring in Ugly Betty had on not solely his profession, however his private life as properly. For a fleeting second within the aughts, the sitcom had a robust chokehold on popular culture, not not like that of Sport of Thrones or Misplaced. Recognized for its telenovela-esque cliffhangers, the present dominated each water cooler chats and awards reveals, gained a few Emmys, and turned the solid, which included Urie, into an in a single day sensation. It was fairly revolutionary for its time, however standard reveals from the “Golden Age” of tv that heart brooding antiheroes, like Mad Males and Breaking Unhealthy, have obscured our reminiscence of its significance.

“We did go to severe locations, we have been in a position to inform some actual tales and actually concentrate on some fact,” Urie remembers of Ugly Betty and its early-aughts progressivism. “It was so various. The hero was an individual of coloration and the villain was a lady of coloration.” Nonetheless, Urie stays conscious of its flaws. “There’s some comedy racism that perhaps wouldn’t fly in the present day. There’s some comedy transphobia that actually would not fly in the present day,” he notes. “However on the time, what we have been speaking about, what we have been representing, was new, and it was stuff that hadn’t been explored earlier than. It all the time got here again to this lovely, brilliant character within the center, Betty, and despite the fact that the present’s known as Ugly Betty, she was lovely.”

In a cultural panorama that centered straight white individuals, Ugly Betty actually stood out from most different reveals airing on community tv in 2006. And whereas Urie’s character Marc St. James was launched as a villain, over time, Betty’s generosity and sincerity rubbed off on him, and rapidly, the writers began to write down the character for Urie. “Once I noticed the breakdown for the position, all the description was ‘bitchy, homosexual assistant,’” Urie says. “I knew that the casting director had seen me do that Jacobean tragedy in a basement, the place I used to be dressed type of like David Bowie and performed it up, basically like a bitchy, homosexual man, and that’s how I obtained the job.”

However after Ugly Betty took off, Urie says he was instructed to cease enjoying homosexual roles in order that he wouldn’t be typecast. “I used to be inspired to not come out of the closet and all that stuff,” he admits. It wasn’t till 2010 that Urie opened up about his sexuality in an interview with The Advocate, during which he mentioned that he identifies as queer.

Ugly Betty gave a homosexual character layers that transcended stereotypes, and by utilizing Urie to tell the character, the present didn’t restrict Marc’s character to the his initially slim description. “Every little thing that Marc St. James did was me,” Urie says. “It’s not essentially what I’m doing in my common life, however that was all authentically me, my instruments, my traits.” Within the decade because the collection ended, the actor says he has additionally observed an evolution in the best way homosexual characters are written elsewhere. “It’s very uncommon that I decide one thing up that’s set now, that’s fashionable, and the character’s drawback is that he’s homosexual,” he says. “There’s much more happening within the queer neighborhood now, and I’m enthusiastic about that sort of content material. I additionally assume we’re in this time period the place it’s going to [become] rarer and rarer that homosexual characters are performed by straight individuals.”

Nevertheless, the actor cites the instance of Adam Driver enjoying Louis within the 2011 Broadway revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America because the uncommon occasion of a straight actor enjoying homosexual that felt pure and inoffensive (Urie additionally starred within the manufacturing as Prior Walter, a drag queen). He praises Driver’s easy strategy, and his option to not dramatically change his voice or physique language to play the position. “He didn’t really feel the necessity to placed on any sort of airs that weren’t genuine to himself,” Urie says. “I’ve all the time admired that and actually appreciated that about him.”

The actor additionally famous that there are various heterosexual actors who’ve been rewarded for leaning into stereotypes: altering their voice, or adjusting their physique language and actions to “appear” homosexual. Straight actors who do that are sometimes perceived as having a level of confidence or bravery, “And I do not assume it is essentially useful to them or to us,” Urie says.

After a second of contemplation, Urie settles on one closing considered his place within the leisure trade as a queer actor who has performed queer roles: “The implication is that in some way it’s straightforward while you’re queer to play queer, and in some way it’s an awesome problem while you’re a straight cis individual enjoying [queer],” he says. “We’re all simply attempting to make it, however I generally assume if I had been out of the closet and identified in 2006, I’d not have gotten the job on Ugly Betty as a result of I’d have both not even been thought of or I wouldn’t have had the center to be my full self and use all of my flamboyant and effeminate qualities for the audition. I’d’ve thought I wanted to be stoic and masculine due to disgrace. Now, I’m a giant grown ass man, and I really feel very in another way about issues like that.”

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