Santiago Felipe/Getty Images; Paramount Pictures
Brian Falduto has learned a lot about himself after getting an early education in School of Rock.
The former child actor, 29, recently opened up about how playing "the gay kid" in the 2003 movie made it difficult for him to come to terms with his own sexuality.
"I was in so much denial," he explained on the Cooper and Anthony podcast while discussing his sassy character Billy.
"Think about it: I was in the fifth grade when this movie came out and I was called gay, and then someone told me that's not cool," Falduto continued. "So I was just like, 'Oh okay, then I'm not gay.'"
He famously starred alongside Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Miranda Cosgrove, and a slew of other talented young actors in the musical comedy, playing Billy, a private school student with an eye for fashion who becomes the titular band's costume designer. His line, "You're tacky and I hate you," even became one of the movie's most memorable one-liners.
"I was denying it before I even had a notion of what [being gay] was," Falduto recounted. "So by the time I realized I was potentially gay, I was already homophobic towards myself, essentially."
Falduto previously opened up about both the negatives and positives of his experience in a personal essay for The Advocate. "Even though I denied them the chance to do so for 16 years, supporters who resonated with my work on screen at such a young age have wasted no time in reaching out and telling me what it meant to see someone like me on the big screen in 2003; in most cases, someone like them," he wrote in October.
"I'll admit, the beautiful moments of connection that have come since embracing and sharing my story have made me feel silly for hiding," Falduto continued. "But I was 11 and it was a different time, and I had to do what I had to do to survive."
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The actor - who's also added musician, filmmaker, and life coach to his résumé - has stayed in touch with Black over the years, as have many of the film's young stars. "I want to give him a shout out for being an awesome, awesome human," he said to Cooper and Anthony, noting that the Tenacious D member even helped him fund a music video.