Showing and Telling with Folk Cast

By Lawrence Ferber for Windy City Times, November 22, 2000

Source: Queer as Folk - Canadian Dedication Page
Courtesy: Occam's Razor

Although none had actually seen it, actors Gale Harold (the slutty, heartbreaker Brian),

Hal Sparks (the cute yet pining Micheal) and Randy Harrison (the 17-year-old newbie Justin)

at least heard of the controversial UK series Queer as Folk prior to snagging their roles in Showtime's American version.

And no doubt, like their British predecessors, they will soon find themselves at the center of a storm of controversy

—and fabulous ratings—when the series premieres Dec. 3. While shooting in Toronto,

which doubles as the show's setting of Pittsburgh,

we caught up with the three (of which Harrison is the lone out queer) in between their close-ups.

*So let's talk about how much you three relate to your characters.

Gale, are you or have you ever been a manipulative slut like Brian?

Gale Harold: "Everyone's a Brian at some point or another. That's why people relate to him.

It's just like every archetypal character, it speaks about something all of us have inside.

Whether we display that or not or can keep it up for extended periods of time is a different story

but there are facets of my life, my own experience

and things I've done that definitely have figured into the characterization and actions I've chosen to play."

*Using "Brian" as a verb, have you ever been Brianed?

GH: "(laughs) Yeah, I've been Brianed.

I think everybody has and there's a whole vast range of people who have Brianed you.

You can be Brianed by your mother if you're not careful, right?"

*Like Oedipus. What about you, Hal? Have you ever pined after a friend the way Michael does for Brian?

Hal Sparks: "I'm actually a little closer to Brian than most; but I don't sleep around. I'm a little cooler, not like '50s cool,

but temperature. But my thing has mostly been with [several] girls I can't have.

I tend to pine, you know? So it's not one person; like three different girls in my life are kind of Brian altogether.

I get it, I know how it's possible, it's pretty easy.

And Gale, who plays Brian, is very charismatic and likeable as Brian and it's me playing the one character

who really gets him beyond that normal charisma, sexual attraction.

Michael understands he's worth loving as opposed to just worth fucking.

That's a great thing to play as an actor."

*Do you find Gale/Brian charismatic?

HS: "Yeah, I think so. I think he's quirky and dark, he's borderline vampiric at times but in a very cool way.

It's Brian doing what he has to do to survive.

We all have our fights we've been fighting all our lives and that's just his way of winning."

*Randy, would you stalk and get all cross-eyed over Brian the way Justin does?

Randy Harrison:

"I don't know. Probably not. I'd be too smart for that; it's destructive! I was a little safer than him."

*How did your youth compare with Justin's?

RH: "There are things that irritate me about Justin, there are things he does that I would never do.

He's sillier, wilder, more hopefully devoted to Brian than I can ever imagine myself being to anyone.

At the same time I admire him so much, he has a lot more balls than I did when I was 17.

He gets in fights, he tells people off, he refuses to accept anything less than he deserves in a lot of ways

and that's really empowering, to go back and sort of say things I never would have said when I was 17."

*He's much less obnoxious than Charlie "I'm doin' it!" Hunnam's Nathan character in the UK version.

RH: "I think they're different characters overall. I think all the characters are based on the British

but end up being completely different people in similar situations."

*Hal, is Michael a totally pathetic wimp loser?

HS: "No. He's a scrapper, a fighter if he needs to be,

he just never knows what he should do because he's so used to people telling him what to do."

*How does your love life compare to Brian's, Gale?

GH: "Well, Brian is an archetype. He's a version of extreme reality and I think that at times I would wish for a love life like his

and at times I thank God I don't have that kind of love life. Because Brian is not in control of what he's doing.

I mean, he's a very controlling person, but he's out of control. It's great, it's fun for a while

and I've definitely been through that, but to sustain that over years and years is ... you can't really have a professional life.

I couldn't be having the life I have now and have a love life like his."

*One of the most talked-about things when it came the UK version was its first episode's explicit love scene

between Stuart and Nathan. And even more specifically,

the bit where Stuart licks the yummy lad's butt, teaching him the joys of rimming.

I was pleased to see they kept that for the Showtime version between Brian and Justin.

Did you two rehearse it?

RH: "There is no rehearsal necessary for butt lick."

*Were you neurotic about being fresh down there?

RH: "No, actually I was very clean. I always am for the sex scenes,

you never want to smell or anything. It's true; you never know where someone's head is going to be."

*How DID Randy's butt taste, Gale?

GH: "Salty. He's a fairly hygenic person I would think. Not like saltines, more like a neck. A little cumin I guess."

*Was there any sexual material in the script that made you blanche, Hal?

HS: "Only in regard to how it portrayed Michael. Whatever Michael has to do sexually to show who Michael is I'm cool with,

but I wasn't cool with some sexual things because they didn't seem in line with who Michael was.

There was a scene where a guy picks up Michael and they go back to his apartment and the guy

who was playing him was very pushy and tough with me.

I had to say to him 'Michael wouldn't go home with you if you acted like that. It would scare him.'

It was more like prison than a come on! I went 'all you have to do is be a little charming and sweet' and that's what happened.

But there was no way in hell that if a guy came up and was rough and tumble with Michael he'd even think about it,

because he can just go home and jerk off. He's that type; 'I don't need this.'

What he needs is someone who he can at least pretends loves him."

*I want secrets. Randy, tell me a secret.

RH: "I have a tattoo that they have to cover that sometimes, you can sort of tell where it is."

*Were there any embarrassing moments or bloopers?

RH: "There's one scene where I catch a football

and the guy once threw it directly in my face and hit me and I didn't catch it. Very Brady Bunch."

*Have you ever seduced a little, itty bitty young 'un like Justin, Gale?

GH: "I don't know if I want to get into that. I've got to save something, you know?

As far as I'm concerned that's not a yes or no question. There's so much more to be done, right?

So much more life to live I don't want the boundaries to get all hard and fast."

*Well, how about this question; are you a monogamist or sleaze?

GH: (pause) "You think I'm going to answer that question after not telling any tidbits?

I can't give that up, it's too early. I'm not playing my hand that soon, no way. I'm saving it.

There's no fucking way. We'll talk again."

*Peter Paige told me of the cast's "no fucking" rule.

However, he did admit that extras have been getting busy during backroom scenes.

Have you witnessed love and drama on the set?

GH: "I've seen it, just be assured that any time there's a hot sexual environment; where there's smoke there's fire."

*And what do you folk hope or expect queer viewers to get out of the show? And do you expect any ogling?

GH: "Something that's real, that's meaningful,

that lets people see aspects of their own life portrayed in a real way, every level of it.

Celebration of life, freedom, and love and the pain and struggle."

RH: "I'm just excited for people to see the show because I think it's really good. I'm proud of my performance."

HS: "We feel like we're doing really good television

and that the characters are real and performances are strong.

But will this be acceptable to a wide audience? That's open to great debate.

You'd like to think so, you'd like to think

that people have become more open minded with the progress Will & Grace has made and all that,

but this is a tall order for a lot of people."