Mike O’Malley may not sing on FOX’s hit series Glee, but his role as Kurt’s ultra-supportive father stands out as one of this year’s best.
He's not one of the pop stars who’ve helped strike ratings gold for lending songs to—and doing the occasional cameo (love you, Brit!) on—FOX’s hit series. He’s not the sassy, tracksuit-wearing gym teacher whose take on “Vogue” dominated water-cooler conversations. In fact, he’s not even sung so much as one song on Glee—though we hear he’s not opposed to the idea. Still, Burt Hummel (played by actor and sometimes Time Warner Cable peddler Mike O’Malley) stands out as one of 2010’s best TV characters for his unwavering support of gay son Kurt. And aside from the mental gymnastics it takes to believe that any glee club anywhere could have only one gay member, the father-gay son story line has made us laugh, cry and even swell up with pride.
Last season, many of us watched nervously as kurt came out to his father, the blue-collared, baseball-capped burt. So often you hear of fathers not taking the news well, but burt was amazing. What do you think about the unfortunate stories you hear of fathers disowning or even throwing their kids out?
It makes me sad that we are built in a way that makes us inflict sadness on one another and that, despite all of the good things that happen in the world, so many families struggle to love one another fully.
What has burt taught you about fathering your own three children?
It has reminded me of what all adults already know—especially since they were once teenagers themselves—and that is that teens have a deep, nuanced and complex life—because they are interacting with the rest of the world—and all the good and bad it has to offer. And [because] teens are away from home more than they are at home, it’s taught me to be alert to all the times my own kids want to be with me now while they’re all so little. The more time you spend with them, the more of an impact you can have.
Saturday Night Live funny guy bobby moynihan spoofed your character earlier this season the night your co-star—or, according to her opening number, Glee’s star—jane lynch hosted. What did you think of the performances?
I thought Jane’s performance was one for the ages. Her opening number smoked. I thought it was interesting [that] Bobby, who is a very talented actor—and co-starred in a film I wrote called Certainty—didn’t give me a heads-up! But you know you’ve hit the Zeitgeist when you’re parodied. I loved how authentic the costuming was—spot-on perfect. And I thought Bobby was hilarious.
Recently there have been several news stories on bullying. While the Glee kids might get a brightly colored slushie to the face, in the real world, not everyone gets off so easy. What do you make of some of the horrific stories of bullying—and their sad fallouts—that we’ve heard about?
No one likes to get picked on. We seem to live in a world where ridicule reigns, where people are not only torn down because of their identity, but also because of what they do for a living, their relationships, their struggles with drugs and alcohol, their religious preferences, the way they look, the color of their skin, their weight, their teeth, their complexion. Human beings have been really great at being really mean for a long time. We should all start practicing what we preach about our so-called hatred of unkindness. In fact, we should all try to go 48 hours without making an unkind comment about anyone.
On a really serious note, how do you think a loving parent can change the unfortunate equation we saw with the kids who were literally bullied to death?
Put down the cell phone, get away from the computer, get home from work and spend time with your kids. If you are immersed in their lives and they know that they are loved, that love might tether them to you in an inextricable way so that the challenges life puts to them won’t cause irreparable despair.
What would you say to other parents out there who are struggling to accept their gay kids?
Love your kids before you die with all of your heart or you will die sadder and sooner than you’re going to anyway.
Glee airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. on FOX