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Michael Urie: 'I Was Encouraged To Stay In The Closet' When Starting 'Ugly Betty'

Michael Urie, best known for his delightful role as Marc St. James on Ugly Betty, initially was encouraged to stay in the closet publicly. Urie spoke with Frontiers LA

Amid gay actors who struggle when coming out publicly, Urie enjoys a flourishing career. Yet he doesn’t believe problems have gone away for all gay actors. He confides, “When I first started Ugly Betty in 2006, things were very different. I was encouraged to stay in the closet. This was before Neil Patrick Harris had come out. Even though I was playing an openly gay character, we thought we might want to keep the mystery of what I do behind closed doors. But, for me, coming out has only aided my career. It might not be good for everyone, but I have gotten to play so many wonderful roles. If I at any point decide not to play gay characters anymore, I would work a lot less. To me, it’s way better to have jobs and get great parts. I got to do [gay roles] in The Temperamentals and Angels in America, and now Buyer and Cellar.” 

Urie points out that these well-received portrayals led to his being cast as heterosexual characters in The Cherry Orchard and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Yet he adds, “Unfortunately, I think coming out is still something actors known for certain kinds of roles have to think about. Audiences sometimes have a better sense of suspension of disbelief than people making the casting decisions do, though I can’t blame them for not taking big risks. Will & GraceUgly Betty and Modern Family have helped progress the gay rights movement, and those wouldn’t have been possible without gay people in show business.” 

Things have definitely improved within the industry as more and more actors have chosen to be open about their sexual orientation. Hopefully we'll see more individuals behind the scenes showing a willingness to take "big risks."




Dear Mary, it's ok gurl. I knew in the first few minutes. Hell my dog knew. Dead ppl knew!! I understand your dilemma! Welcome aboard. You will receive your card and rainbow beach towel in 4 to 6 weeks! Foreword on gay sex; it's gonna hurt, real bad!!

Thanks for the another dose of the daily whine.  Gee, think of the difference this would have made if he did "come out" earlier.  I guess thanks to NPH for having smarts, self-belief, and authenticity to serve as the role model you miss the opportunity on.

Look, a lot of it has to do with the casting directors; most of which are closet-cases to begin with.

The point was not if we knew he was gay which I am sure he knew everyone did, but that he was not able to be open about his private life. He was not able to go out with his boyfriend or friends where he could be spotted in the public. He had to keep that part of his life private. He is opening up and telling us how he was told how he was supposed to act and how it could affect many other actors careers. Now times are different and being just yourself with out fear of not being cast has gotten better.

Keep the mystery??? Even if Scooby Doo was drunk and high, he would have solved this "mystery" in the first 5 minutes of the show...IF that long! 

We knew, sweetie. We knew.

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