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“The Real O’Neals” star Noah Galvin received a warm welcome at his first TV critics press tour, where he mentioned he was gay. But the buzz around the 22-year-old actor changed after he made controversial comments about Colton Haynes, Eric Stonestreet, and director Bryan Singer in an interview with Vulture, for which he later apologized. Now, he’s trying to get back on track as a positive LGBT role model.
What did you learn from the Vulture interview and its subsequent fallout?
The biggest thing I learned is just the potential reach I have. Of course, I wish my “Out” article (“Sometimes A Mess Sparks A Conversation”) could have as much reach as the salacious interview that came prior to it, but that’s just the way of the world — it’ll never have the exposure that the first interview did. But I totally recognize that I messed up in some ways. I’m just trying to learn from those mistakes and move forward and try to be a great advocate for the LGBT community. The ultimate goal is to be a great actor and great advocate.
Have you thought about why you made those remarks?
I think in the moment, I was responding to frustrations that I felt in the business, being an out gay man in the business, and playing a gay kid on TV…. I engaged in a conversation — a very cavalier conversation.
At the time that the “Vulture” article came out, were you scared about losing your job or the show?
No. Everybody at ABC and everybody on our show specifically supported me through-and-through. There were silly articles that came out, saying that ABC was threatening to cut our series order from 13 to nine episodes, which is simply false. [ABC] completely supported me. I messed up and they know I messed up. I got scolded a little bit from my bosses, but it comes with the territory and I’m glad I learned early on in my career.
Have you spoken with Colton Haynes or Eric Stonestreet or Bryan Singer, since the article came out?
Yes, actually — at the Evening Before the Emmys party, I walked up to [Eric Stonestreet] and introduced myself and we had a lovely conversation.
So you and Eric are all good?
Since you haven’t spoken to Colton yet, if you could say something to him, what would you say?
I don’t know. I’d hope that he would read my “Out” article, for sure. I’d sort of just want to sit down and have a conversation with him. I’ve never had the chance to do that. And I’d love to just pick his brain and have him pick mine.
In the “Out” piece, you said that you want to be a role model for the LGBT community. What does that mean to you?
I don’t know if there’s anything different that I’d like to do that I haven’t been doing. As soon as the show aired, I started getting messages and tweets and DMs from people all over the world who were coming to me for advice on how to come out. At first, that was a challenging thing learning how to navigate being an advocate — giving advice and not extending myself so much that these people think that I am their therapist. That was an interesting thing that I had to learn because initially, I just wanted to respond to all of them, and then, there were situations where those kids took the inch I was giving them and wanted to just run for the mile, which was daunting and scary and illuminating. The whole process has been those three things and I think will continue to be those three things. I’m just very excited for this second season [of “The Real O’Neals”] because I think it will give me more of those opportunities.
When you auditioned for “The Real O’Neals,” were you worried about being typecast?
In that moment, I realized I am a gay man, I can potentially be playing one of the first gay teens on a network sitcom, and that’s an important thing. That hadn’t really hit me until after the test. … Once I [got the part], it was very affirming, and a little scary. That’s when the conversation started with my team about when, and if, I should come out. My thinking from the get-go was that I had to come out. This was too big an opportunity not to share my story. It was important to me in this audition process that a gay man play this part because it’s the story of a young gay kid coming out of the closet, and I really wanted someone to understand the nuances of that process and for it not to be a straight man playing this role. Straight people can absolutely play characters and they can do it very well, but this was a different situation.
On the flip side, what are your thoughts on gay actors playing straight characters?
I hope that I am at the forefront of being a gay man in the business that doesn’t have to play the straight man in real life to get the straight male roles. I’m hoping that I can just be who I am naturally, and hopefully that’s enough. I’m hoping that my artistic abilities will speak for themselves.
You said that after you landed the part on “The Real O’Neals,” you had a conversation with your team about whether you should come out. Doesn’t it seem ridiculous that these conversations are still going on?
Yeah, it does. It is a little ridiculous that we still have to have a conversation about sexuality in 2016, and that so many industry professionals surrender to the idea of not coming out because they fear it will limit their careers. I’m hoping to be at the forefront of that movement to be ourselves and get the jobs we want because we’re good actors. That should be enough.
What are your career goals?
I want to do it all. I want variety and longevity. Theater is where I feel the most at home. I’ve never filmed a movie, and I would really, really like to film a feature. I want to ideally have five seasons of this show so I can make all the money that I need and then be able to go to New York and work in theater for a while. In terms of characters I’d like to play, I think the same goes for that – I want to do everything and I can do everything. I’m a very capable, competent actor and I would like to do it all.
You said that you’d like for the show to go for at least five years, so what are your long-term goals for Kenny?
There are so many things that as a new gay man in the world you have to navigate. I think a lot of times, people build up a masculine façade that’s then chipped away at, if you are able to be yourself over time, so I’m excited to see Kenny relax into himself. Then, there’s also losing your virginity. He’s had his first kiss now, but I’m really excited for him to really explore the sexual side of his sexuality. I think that would be really interesting and I think our writers are capable of tackling that in a really graceful, funny, yet PG way. That’s a big thing.
Speaking of romance, Variety broke the news that in Season 2, Kenny gets his first boyfriend. Can you tell me about that storyline?
Yeah, yeah, yeah! The kid who is playing my boyfriend is Sean Grandillo, and he plays the character of Brett. Sean was most recently in “Spring Awakening” and I saw him in that, and I actually gave his name to my casting director. We have a lot of mutual friends and he’s a very competent actor…I had a Skype chemistry [test] with him, and even over Skype, he was one of the only boys I was able to really have a connection [with] — there was a clear chemistry. The first episode that he’s in, I don’t know that he’s gay and I think he’s just being an asshole to me, and then it comes out that he’s been crushing on me and he over-compensated. It’s also a musical episode and he comes from musical theater and so do I, so we get to do a little mash-up situation. We’ll see where it leads.
What else can you tease about Season 2?
This season is a lot about budding romance. Not just for my character, but for Bebe’s [Wood] character and for Martha’s [Plimpton] character. And our Halloween episode is amazing. In our Halloween episode, I am in full, full drag, which I’m very excited for the world to see. I’m a really pretty girl!
What you didn’t know about Noah Galvin
AGE: 22; Grew Up In: Katonah, N.Y.; First Professional Theater Credit: Gavroche in the national touring company of “Les Misérables”; ‘THE REAL O’NEALS’ SEASON 2 SURPRISE: In the Halloween episode, he’s dressed in drag