Chat with Gale Harold, "Brian"

January 28, 2001

From Showtime's Queer as Folk Site


Thanks for signing on for our chat with Gale Harold.

Gale plays the bold and unapologetic Brian Kinney on "Queer as Folk." Gale's road to Hollywood has landed him on the stage,

in film, and finally on Showtime starring in QAF.

Ask Gale about his life before and during QAF.

Welcome Gale! Let's get started!

Gale Harold: Hello! I hope you had a good time watching the Super Bowl.

Jacquie: Hi Gale. Have you received a lot of positive mail from viewers?

Gale Harold: I haven't received any paper mail, and well, no.

Soul eyes: What is the significance of the shell bracelet? The one Brian wears when he goes "out."

Gale Harold:

When I was 17, I seduced and romantically exploited Jacques Cousteau, and the whole crew on the ship "The Odyssey".

Chris m17: Hey Brian, how did you become part of the cast on "Queer as Folk"?

Gale Harold:

Well, I guess if I'm answering as Brian then I wouldn't know,

because then I'd just be this guy living in Pittsburgh.

Gale says, I auditioned, and then was cast through a regular audition process. And I really, really hated it.


Hi Gale. How would you describe each of the guys on the set?

I'm sure Hal Sparks is the clown; what about everyone else including yourself?

Gale Harold:

Well, I mean, there is a lot of clowning, I think.

But there is a lot of very serious acting going on too, it gets very heavy. (laughing to self)

We just sort of show up and beat the sh*t out of each other for four or five hours, and we like it.

Scott H: What do you like the most about playing Brian?

Gale Harold:

One of the great things about playing him is that, because of the way he has been created,

and the way that he's written, I'm free to sort of just be very simple.

And simply be what's on the page.

And that's very freeing, you know, because then it's just about trying to feel

what he would feel without having to manufacture too many reasons for every moment.

He's just so clear and direct. And that can also be a little frustrating,

because sometimes I feel like my main objective is to just return volleys from other characters,

kind of like a racquetball court, or something. That's one of the things that's really kind of, you know. And it's fun,

it's really invigorating to be such a wise ass.


Where does it all takes place? Do you do all your shooting in Pittsburgh, or do they take place somewhere else?

Where would I go to see you act and/or meet the cast?

Gale Harold:

It's all taking place on a sound stage at the White House.

And that's one of the few things that George W. is going to allow us to keep from the previous administration.

Because he's a real pal!

Scott H:

I think you are totally great in your role as Brian.

I hope that the series goes well past its 22-episode run, as it touches a lot of people's lives.

My question is, are you and the rest of the cast willing to stay on if it becomes a regular series?

Gale Harold:

Yeah. The answer is that all of us, when you take the audition process to a certain point,

you know that you're attempting to be cast in a project that could potentially have, with success,

could have a lifespan of years, maybe.

And you know that when you are going through the process, and that's part of the decision to even go to a certain part.

We all of us love the project, and we were hoping to be cast,

and hoping our involvement in the show would contribute to a successful audience response, and be the cause of subsequent seasons,

and then the clowns came rushing in, and put a gun to my head.

Soul eyes:

How difficult is it for you to keep a straight face during some of the more intimate scenes/dialogue?

 Has anyone completely lost it and halted shooting for more than a few seconds?

Gale Harold:

Yeah! Well, I think cracking up,

when you are shooting an intimate scene

(if what is being implied here is a sex scene; Brian doesn't really have any love scenes yet) if you break up,

I try not to do that because it might be conceived as insulting to the person I am working with.

But other than that, we are cracking up all the time.

But you are looking at someone with longing, and then realize,

they have some crap in their eye, or you hear a strange sound, and look away.

It's like life.

Hello Kitty: You are the best actor of all time! You are great! Which episode has been your favorite so far?

Gale Harold:

If I answer the question, does that mean I'm agreeing with you? (smiling)

The episode that's my favorite hasn't been shown yet, so I can't give it away.


Did you read the reviews and letters in today's New York Times,

and if so what is your comment about the criticism of your show being too shallow and stereotypical?

Gale Harold:

I haven't read the reviews and letters.

But, my sort of meaningless response would be "stereotypical of what?" Anything could be stereotypical,

so I guess it could be criticism.

Criticism is a surreal state, like a good drug gone bad.

When it's bad you wish it would stop, and when it's good, you can't get enough.

Did they say it's shallow as a wading pool, or shallow as an open grave?

And I guess the kicker of the whole thing is, I can't read.

But I'm working on it.

Calysta: Do you find this role artistically satisfying?

Gale Harold:

It's satisfying, yeah.

There's a lot of things about it that are kind of interesting from varying perspectives,

one of the things being that it's television, and it's kind of not the medium I expected to find myself working in.

And with the success of things like "Oz" and "Sopranos" and now this thing coming out, this "Six Feet Under" thing,

it's great to be involved in this cable format, even though it is a pay television format.

It's really exciting to be involved in it, working in the medium of television,

but doing something that doesn't make me cringe, because that, to me, is what is shallow.

So, whatever the final impact of this show is,

and how it is received, and whether people feel that it's meaningful and/or stereotypical, shallow,

or whatever else, at least what I am feeling every morning when I wake up and go to work,

and am presented with the scripts and the actors and the storylines, they are all good, it's all quality.

And I realize that because of the nature of the characters

and the nature of the subject matter a lot of people are going to have strong opinions,

and that's satisfying, to be working on something that is provoking dialogue and response.

I get the sense that people are really motivated to say something because they are feeling something.

It's not just bland sort of rehashing what we were wearing, or whatever.

Adam: Hi Gale, saw you in the Aztec commercial. Have you done any other commercials?

Gale Harold: Oh, that wasn't me. A lot of people get us confused. That was my brother.

Michelle: Hi Gale, I think you're an amazing actor! Do you plan on making more movies in the future?

Gale Harold: I plan on it. And I hope other people plan on it as well, because our plans must coexist in a state of symbiotic fatality.

Luca: Gale, is it your choice not to do TV or print interviews right now? I've been searching for interviews and/or articles on you.

Gale Harold:

Yeah, well, I'm saving it up because I'm doing a live appearance at the White House with George Bush Sr.

and I didn't want to let the air out of it.

I wanted it to hit really hard.

We are going to be arm wrestling.

Dune buddy: If you hadn't been successful obtaining this role, where would you be now?

Gale Harold:

I'd be in a crawl space under a house in Glendale,

trying to fix a floor joist on the house that would probably be really screwed up.

I don't know! I'm happy I got the job, I feel extremely lucky, I know they auditioned a lot of people for all the roles.

I would probably be doing theater work with the company I worked with in Los Angeles, and going on auditions.

And watching "Queer As Folk" and being really depressed that I wasn't on the show.

Baby Jade: You have such a beautiful intensity of spirit on screen--such a pleasure to watch. What motivates you as an artist?

Gale Harold:

Wow, that was really nice! Music, I use music a lot to kind of inspire myself.

I listen to a lot of different kinds of stuff.

Lately I've been getting into this William Orbit record, from '99. It's called "Pieces in a Modern Style."

I think it came out in '99; it's been out for a while.

I use music, and that's one thing I've been listening to a lot lately.

And I think this situation is really good, because sort of the relationships of people in the cast,

and a lot of the crew, and the writers, there is a lot of good, positive sort of energetic interplay going on.

And a lot of times, I get my own motivations for myself off the set,

and then I get a lot of motivation from the people I'm working with.

And I think that's kind of unique, and a fortunate situation for everyone.

Mary Miracle: If you won an Emmy, who would you thank?

Gale Harold:

Well, I'd thank Emmy, right?

And I'd thank George Bush, of course.

I don't think it would ever happen. Or maybe I should just say "The President," hee hee.

Tina: Have you done modeling?

Gale Harold: No.


It's obvious you are very talented, as I find myself reacting to the television.

Where did you train? Did you go to school, and where?

Gale Harold:

No, I never went to school. I wasn't allowed to.

I had to stay home and work on the farm. I mean, the pharmacy.

Adam: Are there any projects you currently working on?

Gale Harold:

No. Sadly, no. Only "Queer As Folk" which is keeping me very busy.

 Although I am not giving up hope.

Dick Greenleaf:

Congratulations on handling this challenging role so well.

Hal has said in interviews that he found preparing to kiss another man much like preparing to kiss a dog.

How did you approach this part of your job?

Gale Harold:

Well, I've been making out with dogs since I was three years old,

so I really couldn't use that, it didn't bring me any sort of inspiration.

In fact, I get bored when I think of dogs these days.

I just approach it by, having my connection to my character.

As an actor, I have what I try and maintain connections to his feelings, and his emotions, and his desires.

And, Brian is very highly sexual and passionate in his own way,

and that is what I am trying to feel, within myself. I try. My goal is to be real, whether I am having a conversation with someone,

or just reacting to someone, a lot of the time, standing off to the side, giving a dirty look.

It doesn't matter, it's part of the character's life, and that's my job;

that's the exhilarating part of being an actor.

To travel in someone else's mind and body, so I just try and feel it, and that's how I prepare.

Stormy day: For Gale Harold, how long does it take to film a show from beginning to end?

Gale Harold:

We shoot an episode in seven days.

So, that's typically the schedule.

Sometimes we have technical problems, or there are other reasons, but normally, seven days.

And seven days is not a long time to get done as much as we do.

We have an amazingly hardworking crew that helps us survive here in the White House, where we live. And pray.

Gary: How is the community in Canada, as far as the taping of the show? Have you had any problems?

Gale Harold:

No. No, it's been great.

The people here are very, very cool.

I had never even been to Canada before I got this job.

Toronto is a great city. It's great to be off on location, I mean, I know it's not the same for everyone on the cast.

But just in terms of being away from home, it's harder on some than it is on me to be away from home,

but for me, I enjoy being on extended location, and I really like it here, even though it's F-ing cold, it's great!

New out: What do you consider Brian's primary motivation?

Gale Harold:

 To be the best Christian he can be.

And to set a good example for all the impressionable young gangsters that might take his message the wrong way.

CC Dave: Does this role let you express emotions that you would normally not get to express in everyday life?

Gale Harold:

I think it allows me to express personality traits that I wouldn't be allowed to express in every day life.

Maybe not allowed. It's the self-censoring apparatus of human consciousness, social correctness, political correctness,

whatever, that Brian just doesn't give a sh*t about.

That's one of the wonderful things about his character,

that makes him fun and engaging for me to play, is the way he was created, even based on Stuart, the original character.

I think the seeds were there, and I know Dan and Ron, the writers for the American version,

their vision for Brian is that one of the primary facets of his character is that he has this utter disregard for social perceptions.

And in the interest of honesty, no matter what he does that people may or may not consider appropriate,

he's honest, according to his own iron clad version of the truth.

And within that ideology, he just doesn't take any bullsh*t, and I'm not the kind of person that will.

Even if I'm sensitive enough to know it about someone else,

I'm not the kind of person to call it as I see it without holding back, the way he does.

That's the kind of thing that I get to do as Brian that's encouraged, and even, they give me food when I do it,

because they want me to do it again. But as far as emotions,

I think Brian has got all the emotional problems of any highly self-conscious drug-addled disco freak.


Brian is a complex character. Did you or do you know "where he is" as a person before filming,

were you told, or did you find the character yourself?

Gale Harold:

I had a few conversations with the writers about that, but very minimal, in terms of the time or the depth.

And to be honest, the way that things worked, from the time that I got the job, I was told that I had the job,

which is on a Thursday around noon, I was in Toronto shooting on the following Tuesday.

So in terms of preparation, it was whatever I could figure out, between packing, traveling, wardrobe fittings, etc.

I have ideas now. It's strange, because trying to go back in time to those early episodes in terms of where I was as an actor

and where Brian was by watching those episodes and now,

trying to go back and piece in the bits of his life that I didn't have a chance to comprehend at the beginning of this project,

it's really surreal. It's like recovering from amnesia, kind of, and trying to use the scripts,

and what we have already shot as clues to build it,

because I feel like I kind of "woke up," and was running through a hospital, or having sex with Justin,

and then the pieces of Brian's life that you don't see on the show are still sort of arranging themselves.

Stormy day: For Gale Harold, did you know any of your co-actors before getting together to do QAF?

Gale Harold:

No, I didn't. Of course, I knew who Sharon was.

And I had seen Hal.

It all kind of started to come to me after we read together.

After we read together, it was like another kind of amnesia thing.

I had seen him on "Talk Soup," I just couldn't remember where or when.


Do you feel like this will limit what kind of roles you'll get after this,

with the show being such a hit and this being your "big break"?

Gale Harold:

Gary, well, the answer to that question is kind of two parts.

If I am limited because of what people think of my performance, then that's a factor in anything you do.

Anytime you step on stage or in front of the camera,

there is the chance someone will draw conclusions about your performance that won't propel you to future roles.

But I think you are getting to typecasting, and anyone who would typecast me based on this project,

for something to make a decision not to use me in another role as an actor, if they were coming at it from that perspective,

I wouldn't want to work with him anyway. I mean, it's 2001, right?

We are well beyond that mindset. And I don't sit around wringing my hands hoping to get a job with some sort of commercial,

corporate agenda that wouldn't allow someone to stretch.

Stormy day: Is the nightclub in the show filmed in a real club or is it a very large sound stage?

Gale Harold:

It's a real club. It's all true.

All of the sweat is human sweat.

And people are really dancing. They are not being manipulated by computers after the fact.

There was one scene that we did shoot in a loading dock, and maybe that can be some sort of trivia,

people can figure it out, Hal was in the scene,

I was in the scene, and you see George W. Bush in the background, it will be a dead giveaway.

He drops by the set a lot, just for a little sport.

George Bush making out with Alfred E. Newman in Episode 21.

Flaming June 55: Can you share any spoilers for your biggest fans?!

Gale Harold:

Spoilers! Hmmm. Let's see.

I heard rumors that Brian is going to get a new car,

and if anyone out there has any suggestions, feel free.

But if it's not a late '60s or early '70s American muscle car, I probably won't listen to what you are saying.

Darius 3: Gale, do you think your show will help young gay people come to terms with their sexuality?

Gale Harold:

Let me relay something that crossed my mind while filming the pilot.

It was during, on the day that Randy and I were shooting one of our sex scenes, and at the time,

I realized that things had been so hectic, and relocating, and getting ready to be on the show,

and trying to be prepared and everything, there were so many thoughts running through my head,

and I remember on that day thinking to myself,

I did have an intuition about what was going to happen when young homosexuals saw themselves, in essence, on screen.

With the character Justin.

And because I am no stranger to ridicule, and I think, on some level, many people have experienced...

Okay, let me start again. What I am trying to say is, it's a hard question to answer.

I don't want it to come across that I'm taking credit, or we're taking credit, for something that is a serious issue,

and I'm really happy that it may be happening that people are identifying with the character,

in the sense that they are seeing aspects of their lives represented.

It is scary for Justin, and I refer to him specifically because I think he's the focus of the answer of this question.

It's really inspiring to me to feel like I'm a part of something that is giving people a chance to see themselves.

It's scary for Justin, but he's having a blast, and let's be honest, Brian is a great person to hang out with,

at least at first, then he can be a nightmare.

It's like the British show, it's amazing, this show has been able to truthfully

and honestly depict the lives of people who,

because of so many f*d up social misconceptions have been kind of saddled with this stigma, that's still f*d up,

and I think if that's one of the results of the show, that people can throw that off,

and say now you have seen what my life is like, and I love my life. Life is hard,

but I am having a good time too. Hopefully,

it will in the end really sort of ratify people's lives.

If there are young gay men seeing the show,

and I'm not so bold to say that this show covers that whole question, or represents the entire spectrum, or is realistic,

but if some 17 year old in America can watch the show and say,

"Yeah, right on", then great. Another reason I feel really lucky to be a part of this.

Michelle: Hi Gale! Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Gale Harold:

In a body cast. Driving a Cadillac.

Listening to "Popcorn" by James Brown.

And smoking with George W. Bush.

Showtime: Any final thoughts?

Gale Harold:

Happy Sunday night!

Thank you for sharing your precious time with the people

who are manipulating you into thinking you are actually talking with me!

No, I'm just joking.

Thank you all for coming, I hoped you liked the chicken,

I know it was a little dry, but the microwave was broken.