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Michael Urie explains why straight actors need to stay away from gay roles: ‘We’re tired of it’

·3-min read

Michael Urie has explained why he was so adamant that gay actors be cast as gay characters in Netflix’s new queer Christmas film Single All The Way.

The actor, who rose to fame playing Marc on Ugly Betty, plays a perpetually single gay man called Peter in Single All The Way. Peter lives in Los Angeles with his best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) – and romance quickly blossoms when the pair return to Peter’s family home for the Christmas season.

There are three major gay characters in Single All The Way – Peter, Nick and James, who is played by Luke Macfarlane. All three roles are played by openly gay actors.

“I don’t have any real power, but I was very clear that we need to make sure the other guys are really gay,” Michael told PinkNews.

“I was like, it’s gonna be a lot easier in a year when I’m on Zoom doing junkets if we can speak authentically about our gay experience. It’s going to be a lot easier than tiptoeing around the fact that my co-star, who I spend the entire movie falling in love with, doesn’t know what it’s like to be in love with a man.

“Those are conversations we had early when looking for the roles – and everybody was on the same page, by the way. But I was very clear – I wanted to make sure everyone knew how much harder my job would be if I was doing interviews with a straight person talking about gay love.”

Single All The Way star Michael Urie is tired of seeing straight actors playing gay roles

Michael points out that Single All The Way is a film about two gay men falling in love with each other – it made sense that those roles should be played by gay actors.

“If I’m talking about that with some straight guy, and then the narrative is all like, ‘You were so convincing!’ – like, come on, give me a break. We’ve done that, we’re tired of that, we don’t need that anymore.

“And maybe the pendulum will swing back. Maybe I’ll be doing a junket where everyone’s talking about how believable I was playing the heterosexual love interest in a holiday rom-com, wouldn’t that be interesting? And maybe that will happen, but for now, we all needed to be pioneering what we do. So it was important to me that in this movie, we represent ourselves.”

Philemon Chambers, who plays Peter’s best friend Nick in Single All The Way, agrees. He thinks the film wouldn’t have been as impactful if the gay characters were played by straight actors.

“My character Nick, he’s just himself – and it made me just be myself,” Philemon told PinkNews.

“Who I am is who I am. It would not have been the movie it is now if we had straight actors playing gay characters. They would have never known our experience – not at all.”

Read our full interview with Single All The Way stars Michael Urie and Philemon Chambers here.

Single All The Way will be available to stream on Netflix from 2 December.

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