Here are a list of articles that were accumulated all over the web. Some of them can be found at http://users.eastlink.ca/~tee/qaf/
VIDEO CLIPS: Special thanks goes out to Showtime and
Tee for these links to the interview video
clips. These are interview clips that Randy has done with Showtime. These
clips are also stored on
His acting roots
Getting cast for QAF
What's real about the gay chars on QAF
It's not all gay people
His favorite scene
Doing the love scenes
When he's not working
(Feb 2001) Randy's chat on Showtime's Talkcity Courtesy of xof;[from Talkcity Chat February 4th, 2001] VERY special thanks goes toJames Tee of http://users.eastlink.ca/~tee/qaf/
Showtime: Thanks for signing on for our chat with Randy Harrison. Twenty-three year old Randy Harrison plays "Justin," a young man who is in the middle of discovering himself, and who is also hopelessly smitten with "Brian". He is making his television debut in Showtime's "Queer As Folk". Ask Randy about his life before and during QAF. Welcome Randy!
Randy Harrison: Hey everyone! I'm glad to be here.
Lajk: I enjoy the show a lot. My question is --when you first heard of the audition for the show, what was your first thought?
Randy Harrison: My first thought was that I was glad to have an audition!
Rockoff: Randy, how do you like working with Gale Harold?
Randy Harrison: Gale is wonderful to work with.
Johann67: What was the funniest moment for you while making QAF?
Randy Harrison: The funniest moment of making "Queer As Folk" was probably one of our first read-throughs. When we all met one another and first read through the script together.
Jase: Are you worried that you'll be in any way 'typecast' after this? What are your future aspirations as an actor?
Randy Harrison: I think doing any series where you are seen as the same character twenty-two hours in a season can make it difficult for an actor to be seen as any other character. However, I also think that it's an amazing opportunity to be able to spend so much time working with good scripts and good directors, and other talented actors. I have no idea what I will do in the future. But, I look forward to seeing what kind of opportunities will present themselves, and am prepared to face whatever challenges playing this role will bring up for me as an actor.
Vanessa666: Hey Randy, How's Life? How has "Queer As Folk" changed your life?
Randy Harrison: My life has changed, in that I've gone from being a broke college student to suddenly being able to support myself. My life has also changed in that I live in Canada, instead of the United States.
TJ: Hi Randy, I was wondering how hard it is for you to do love scenes, especially the real erotic scene in the first episode with Brian.
Randy Harrison: For me, the difficulty of the sex scenes lies primarily in the emotional state of the character at the time. That first sex scene was definitely the most difficult, because Justin is in a place of utter vulnerability, and it was also shot on the third day of shooting before I really knew Gale, and before I was very familiar with the crew.
Tweety: Do you have a fan mail address yet?
Randy Harrison: If you send fan mail to Showtime, it gets to me.
Hardwood: Have you received any kind of feedback from anyone who credits your character with helping them to come out?
Randy Harrison: I've gotten quite a bit of mail from teenagers, who, I don't know if the character is actually helping them "come out," but who definitely expressed a lot of gratitude for being able to see themselves reflected on television, and who are comforted by Justin.
MaryMiracle: What's your favorite episode?
Randy Harrison: My favorite episode so far is Episode 11, which you guys haven't seen yet...and it's not just because I'm not in it that often!
Smooshpeas: Do you think playing a gay character will help other young gay people find it easier to come out if they watch you in "Queer as Folk?"
Randy Harrison: I hope so.
Randy: Hey Randy -- just wanted to tell you that I think you play a great character on this show, and I wanted to know how you felt about how graphic the show comes off as being, and what kind of a message you hope to convey with your character?
Randy Harrison: I'm actually kind of proud of the graphic nature of the show, only because it depicts sexuality that has not been shown on television before, and that is generally avoided. I don't try to convey any message by playing Justin. I'm only trying to accurately present the character that is given to me in every script.
Stormyday: Randy, do you have any movies in the future planned?
Randy Harrison: Not yet! Are you writing one?
Bi Kat: Randy, when you got to play Justin -- were you nervous since "Brian" is so fine?
Randy Harrison: (laughing) No.
HOPOLO: Are the producers thinking of spinoffs -- IE the lesbian couple with their own show if this goes through a successful season as it seems to be?
Randy Harrison: As far as I know, there is no definite plan for spin offs. I think the producers have their hands full just dealing with the show.
Romeyn: Wow, I didn't think you were that old. I'm actually twenty-three myself. How long have you been in show business?
Randy Harrison: I have been acting since I was seven years old, and I've never stopped. And twenty-three isn't that old, is it?
DJ: Randy, how does this role compare in difficulty to others that you have had?
Randy Harrison: This is the first time I have ever been on television, and the largest challenge to me was switching mediums, and learning to act for a camera, and performing at the speed in which television is shot.
Stlouismuny: Would you ever return to live theatre, or stay with TV?
Randy Harrison: Oh, I never want to stop doing live theater.
JayDotCom: I hope you read this, cause I think you relate to me the best - you're young and dealing with the whole issue of coming out and recognizing how you feel. How will your character deal with rejection from his father?
Randy Harrison: Watch and see!
Naturally: I am from Pittsburgh and find it hard to believe this series takes place there -- how much actual footage actually takes place in Pittsburgh on Liberty Avenue?
Randy Harrison: Absolutely none! The producers chose Pittsburgh because they wanted a sort of general, middle American town. I don't think their aim was ever to accurately recreate the Pittsburgh gay community.
Gary: Hi Randy! I want to thank you for portraying your character so well. I think many young guys like myself can relate to "Justin" and it helps to see how someone in our situation deals. You're awesome (and gorgeous!) and I hope you continue to do great things!
Randy Harrison: Thank you so much!
Star: I have never missed an episode, and I have to say I think that you are doing an excellent job. Who is your favorite cast member and why?
Randy Harrison: I don't think I have a favorite cast member. We are all close in very different ways, we are like a big family here, and I love everyone.
Bill1: How much of Justin's character development comes from the director and writers, and how much is your input?
Randy Harrison: Well, the scripts come from the writers. Generally, it depends on the director. There are some directors that we have had, that I pretty much do everything on my own, and they work mostly with the cameras, and other directors work intimately with the actors. All in all, I don't think any of Justin could be created without all the writers and the producers and the directors. The show -- and every aspect of the show -- is very much a collaborative effort.
JBKroon: Hi, Randy! Great show, and great work on your part portraying Justin. Whereas HBO's "OZ" has been quite forthcoming in showing male nudity, do you foresee Showtime doing the same for any "QAF" characters? Either way, what are your thoughts?
Randy Harrison: The thing about male nudity and "Queer As Folk" is that practically the entire time the characters are naked, they are in sexual situations. Therefore, it would be impossible to use full frontal nudity, because it would be erections, which would be pornography. You will see penis if you watch the show enough. I'm not promising mine.
Danny: Excellent. My comment for Randy is that first of all I really appreciate his bringing of Justin to life. I'm going through a lot of what he is with my family and "coming out". So seeing Justin has been a very emotional experience, and touching!
Randy Harrison: Thank You Danny! I'm so glad that watching Justin has affected you emotionally. It affects me emotionally to play Justin, and it makes me happy to know I am sharing something with other people in that way.
ScreamX1: Hey Randy -- how does it make you feel to have the knowledge that your excellent portrayal of Justin is an inspiration for other teens (like myself) to stay true to themselves? You truly are someone to look up to.
Randy Harrison: Thank you so much! It is overwhelming to hear things like that. In some ways, though, Justin is an inspiration for me as well. I think he is much stronger in a lot of ways than I could ever have been when I was his age, and I admire him for that.
Boogie7: Randy -- Do you foresee Justin living with Brian until he graduates or are they even looking that far ahead in the storyline?
Randy Harrison: You know, we've already played that out as far as shooting, and I don't want to give anything away.
Jim V: Does Hal Sparks keep the set laughing all the time?
Randy Harrison: Yeah, he does. Hal is hilarious.
Aurastar7: Are you going to be on any talk shows or are there any interviews available for the public to see?
Randy Harrison: Yeah, there are a lot of magazine interviews. I can't even keep track of all of them. And there is this. I'm not planning to be on any talk shows anytime soon.
RalphAdam: Your outfits are really neat do you get to pick out your wardrobe? Do you get to keep it?
Randy Harrison: I don't pick out my wardrobe. I don't keep it. But, occasionally, I will steal something for the weekend!
Ferret: What do you think is the biggest lesson that your character has to learn about being an adult or being a gay man?
Randy Harrison: Justin is learning so much. I can't particularly choose which lesson is the most significant, but he is learning about standing up for himself, he is learning about the reality of injustice, he is learning about love, and relationships, and he's constantly shattering his myths about society and sexuality and family and romance. It's amazing playing Justin, because I started playing a very naive and innocent 17 year old, and it seems that every episode, Justin experiences something, or observes something, that makes him grow so significantly.
Major Catch: Is there a traditional or classic role that you would like to play in the future?
Randy Harrison: There are tons of great roles I'd love to play. Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet," Prince Arthur in "King John," Alan Strang in "Equus." There are so many phenomenal roles out there, and so much great writing.
Jennifer: "Justin" has some very emotionally charged scenes. How do you prepare and get motivated for them?
Randy Harrison: It's difficult. I prepare a lot beforehand, and I really examine the scripts. I try to make sure I know where Justin is coming from, where he is going to, and also with what he is aiming to achieve in the scene. Then, generally, I just play off my partner, and through the rehearsals, and talking to the director about the scene. Generally I am in the state of the scene by the time it comes around to shooting it. Also, generally, you'll shoot one scene for four or five hours, and you have plenty of time to find and get to the emotions of the character.
Trina: Hi Randy. My name is Trina. You are amazing on the show. I know you have done theatre for years and I was wondering if you have a most embarrassing moment in the theatre story.
Randy Harrison: Well, first of all, hi Trina! Honestly, I'd say anything that I did between the ages of one and sixteen would be pretty humiliating to look at -- the awkward years, as they say.
Brandon: Who plays Daphne and how old is she?
Randy Harrison: Makyla Smith plays Daphne, and she's 18. I love her, and she's great. I'm glad you like her!
Jeffy: Do you think the Justin character is an accurate portrayal of gay youth today, and do you consider the character a role model?
Randy Harrison: First of all, I don't really know how one character could be an accurate portrayal of an entire group. At least, not if you wanted the character to be an idiosyncratic individual. I don't think we ever aimed at trying to represent a culture; we just wanted to create realistic individuals. I think Justin has a lot of qualities that should be emulated and respected, but at the same time, I think Justin does a lot of trashy and obnoxious things too. I don't think any of the characters on "QAF" are flawless.
Scot Harrison: Did you ever imagine financial and career success this quickly?
Randy Harrison: Well, I'm not financially secure because I'm donating every cent I make to my impoverished older brother, so he can support his wife and family!
CTDave: Are you still filming episodes?
Randy Harrison: Yeah, we are on Episode Nineteen.
Taronda: I think you are so cute. Do you get a lot of fan mail?
Randy Harrison: Not copious amounts, but some -- and it's very great to know that my character is reaching people.
Phil: Hello Randy, I love the show. How is it working with such a diverse group of actors and you being the youngest cast member?
Randy Harrison: Hi Phil! It's great working with so many amazing people; it's an amazing learning environment for me.
Lee: You do your job so well, is it the writers, or do you bring something to the table?
Randy Harrison: Thank you, I'm glad you liked my performance. As I said before, I think it's very much a collaborative effort. I bring as much to the table as I can, and I think everyone involved with the show brings something personal to the table, and the creation of every character.
RupertAnthony: Do you think that your fellow cast members will remain friends well after the show has ended?
Randy Harrison: I'm sure we will.
James: What made you decide to audition for the show?
Randy Harrison: My agent submitted me. It was a very typical audition process.
Jennifer: Are y'all making them throw out all the bloopers or are you able to save them for the final wrap-up party?
Randy Harrison: I don't know if they are printing all of our outtakes. I hope so, because we have had quite a few funny ones.
Jase: How long did it take to establish the "chemistry" that we see developing week to week now on the show?
Randy Harrison: Well, the great thing in playing Justin is that the first time the show begins is the first time he's meeting everybody. So at the pilot, I was a stranger, and we were all just meeting each other. Our characters' relationships have all grown, as our personal relationships have grown and we've gotten to know each other.
Chris-NY: Randy -- did the USA cast ever meet the UK cast?
Randy Harrison: No, we haven't, but we've met Russell Davies, the creator of the British series, and he's amazing. Certain members of the British series also mailed us things that their characters wore for their American counterparts to wear on the show.
Envoi: Randy, the experience that Justin has with his classmates -- being teased and harassed -- was that hard material for you to work with?
Randy Harrison: Yeah, it's difficult to go into an environment of shooting where you haven't met the other actors, and their job is to scream at you and call you "faggot." However, it makes it pretty easy to go there emotionally.
GregNVA: The QAF show has an awesome soundtrack -- what kind of music do you like?
Randy Harrison: I listen to an eclectic collection of music. I just bought the new Radiohead CD, and the Velvet Underground boxed set. I've listened to everything from folk, country, classical, to punk, and trance, and electronica.
Ger: Randy, were you really listening to Moby in the scene from tonight's episode when you're singing to yourself?
Randy Harrison: Yes, I was!
Serenity: Which actors have inspired you?
Randy Harrison: Pretty much every time I go to see a film, or go to a play, there are actors who I feel I can learn from watching perform. I don't have any one particular role model.
Steven in Dallas: How many hours a week do you work in making one show?
Randy Harrison: We work seven working days to make one episode. Generally, the crew is working between fourteen and seventeen hour days, every day, but I don't have to be there all the time, only when I am working on one of my scenes -- so it depends on the episode how much I work, and whether I am heavily featured or not.
Wiubear: Have you or any of your co-stars signed on to do more episodes after this year's are done?
Randy Harrison: Yeah, we are required to stay on for five more years, IF they keep bringing it back, that doesn't mean necessarily we will get five seasons.
ThereAreTwo: It's obvious that the cast is becoming more comfortable with one another as the episodes progress. Can you imagine this being a five season run? If so, who do you think Justin will be at the end of that time?
Randy Harrison: I can't imagine being here for five more years, although it will be great if the show is that successful. I see Justin in five years as being a successful graphic designer, graduating from art school, and having his own place. Really, I have no idea what they are planning on doing with us in the upcoming seasons, but I'm sure it will be exciting.
Buffboi Minneapolis: Randy, You are so lucky to be working with Sharon Gless. Has she taken you under her wing (so to speak) and given you any helpful advice?
Randy Harrison: Sharon is brilliant, and it's a great honor to be working with her. Every time you're in a scene with Sharon, it definitely feels that it's taken to a new level, because she is so committed. She has taken all of us under her wing. She calls us "her boys." And is so giving, and kind.
Vanya: Seems to me that your having been assigned the love scenes early on in the production was an advantage, from an actor's point of view, and such as you describe it wouldn't Justin's vulnerability have been, in fact, a legitimate reflection of your own, real vulnerability under, how shall we say, the more than simply "given" circumstances?
Randy Harrison: Yes, you are exactly right.
ScreamX1: Let's say Brian drops off the face of the earth; who else would you like to see Justin with and why?
Randy Harrison: If Brian were to fall off the face of the earth, I think Justin should learn to be single.
Scoshi: Randy, Showtime has opened many doors for viewers; as an actor, are there any doors you wouldn't enter?
Randy Harrison: No, I would never want to limit myself beforehand.
Smtnsweet: Will you be doing an Internet video interview like the one seen of Hal and Gale?
Randy Harrison: I actually did one. I don't know if they put it on the Internet, but I did do one.
Chris--NC: Are you hoping Showtime is just the starting point for conquering the ground that ELLEN broke on ABC?
Randy Harrison: Well, I hope what this show does is just sort of normalize the presence of gay characters on television -- and shock American audiences into finally getting to a place where it's not a big deal to see two people of the same sex making out in a scene.
Nvzno1: Do you enjoy working with the director and producer, and are they open to new ideas if the actors have a different feel for the scene?
Randy Harrison: Yeah, the directors and producers on the show have all been extraordinary. It is a pleasure for me to collaborate with them. They are very open to your suggestions.
Maclen: What is your opinion about straight persons playing in the role of gay characters and vice versa? I heard Hal Sparks and the actor who portrays David are really straight and it does make me feel differently about the show.
Randy Harrison: Frankly, I don't think the actor's sexuality matters at all. I think if they are good actors, then they are good actors, period. I feel that any committed actor should have the flexibility to play a character of a different sexuality than his own. And I think all of our actors, straight and gay, are committed to playing their gay roles and doing very convincing jobs.
Harri: Hey Randy, Is there ever any improv during the shooting?
Randy Harrison: There's a limited amount. Generally, you can't change the scripts without clearing it with the producers first. So most of the changing of the script and the improvisation goes on during the read through process.
Skip: Randy, your bio says you have done musical theater. You can sing as well as act?
Randy Harrison: I have been known to sing!
Allen195: Randy -- how would you feel about doing a major motion picture based on your "Queer As Folk" character?
Randy Harrison: I feel the character of Justin is very specifically a series television character. I feel that series television is something that is shot to be seen one hour a week for twenty two episodes a year and it ends up creating a very different kind of character than one that could carry a one and a half hour long feature. But I'm sure that Justin would love to be the star of a movie.
RupertAnthony: If you knew the show was about to end, what would you have wanted your character Justin to have accomplished?
Randy Harrison: I feel like Justin is all the time accomplishing things that I'm proud of him for accomplishing. I don't think that there is one specific goal that he is aiming to achieve.
Outkast1: Randy, where do you see yourself in the future after the show?
Randy Harrison: My only goal is to have a career as a working actor.Randy Harrison: Thanks everybody for coming, I had a great time answering your Questions, and keep watching "Queer As Folk."
2000) '2 Atlantans Taking a Chance on 'Queer'' from The Atlanta
by Drew Jubera; courtesy of Teri Vogel; [published December 8th, 2000] Special thanks goes to
(Dec 2000) 'Randy Harrison Bares All'
by David Beebe; courtesy of Steve; [published in the Winter 2000 issue]. Special thanks goes to James Tee for hosting this at http://users.eastlink.ca/~tee/qaf/
"Youíre always reading about everyone saying that the American version is not going to be as extreme. Thatís bullshit, absolute bullshit. Itís going to be just as [extreme], if not more," says Randy Harrison when asked about the amount of sexual content in Showtimeís provocative new series, Queer as Folk. This December, you can see exactly what Randy is talking about as he plays the role of 17-year-old Justin in the edgy series that is filled with boys, sex, parties, clubs, hard bodies, loud music and late nights. Based on the widely popular British series, the story line centers on the everyday lives of seven gay men and women, and is a mature, truthful and often explicit exploration of the gay experience. Randyís character is often the target of controversy because of his age, and because of the explicit acts that happen in the course of his character discovering his own sexuality.
Most likely this is the first time youíve heard of Randy Harrison, but the blonde cutie has been acting since seven. "Acting is the first thing I remember doing, and I just never stopped," recalls Randy. Born in New Hampshire, Randy and his family moved to Atlanta, Georgia when he was ten. It was there, at 16, that he made the tough decision to tell his parents and close friends that he was gay. "It went pretty well, and it was pretty ideal, but difficult as well, just like it is for everyone else I imagine." After high school, Randy left for the University of Cincinnatiís Conservatory of Music College, where he studied theater and performing arts.
After graduation, he moved to New York to work in theater, where he had already landed an acting job at The St. Louis Municipal Theater and performed in many plays, including 1776, Grease and Anything Goes. "I just started pursuing theater, I assumed thatís what I would do, since that was where I had all my experience," he says.
But life as Randy knew it was about to change, and quickly. After being in New York for only a month, his agent sent him to the Queer as Folk audition in L.A. About two weeks later, and in the middle of his theater work, Randy got the call that he had been picked to play Justin. "I was so excited," says Randy. "It took a while to sink in." He realizes that it all happened pretty quickly for him and how fortunate he is. "I really didnít have the typical ĎNew York-starving-actorí experience."
In the series there are three main characters, which are nothing alike, all different ages, and all at various points in their gay life. Gale Harrold, plays Brian, an arrogant 29-year-old advertising executive who is self-absorbed and filled with attitude. Hal Sparks, who is one of the most recognizable names in the cast, plays Michael, an assistant supermarket manager in his late 20s, who is also Brianís best friend. And then enters Justin, the naive 17-year-old who's just coming out and loses his virginity to Brian, only to fall in love with him, but doesnít find the same feelings coming from Brian. Through the twenty-two episode series, we follow the twists and turns of the trio's lives as they spend their nights in the blue collar Pittsburgh gay scene and their days trying to figure out what being gay is all about. "Of course, the characters are in no way role models," says Randy, "but I think that Justinís balls-e-ness, un-bashfullness, and complete lack of shame are something that young people will cling onto and learn from."
As lucky as Randy is, heís not quite sure of the impact that this role will have on his acting career or life. "Before this, I really had no acting career, and itís exciting to be part of something different. Itís a great job, I just graduated, and this is the hand I was dealt. Iíll have to deal with the repercussions of it afterwards." The down-to-earth actor seems to have control of everything so far though, and is only really looking to pursue a successful career without having his sexuality become a major part of it. "Iím totally willing to talk about it, but Iím not marketing my sexuality," asserts Randy. "I just want to play really good parts and work with people I can learn from."
Randy isnít much like the character he plays, though. "Even though my character is gay and Iím gay, heís still really different from me. Iím not a club boy and really never have been. Iím a homebody," admits Randy. "I like to sit around and read (his favorite author is William Faulkner), go to movies (his favorite being Fight Club) and go out to eat (whatever there is). But I like to have fun too. I throw good parties. People dance. I just feel more comfortable where I know most of the people, and we can just get down." For all you Top 40-music-haters out there, you and Randy may have something else in common as well. He admits that he listens to a little bit of everything and that he will occasionally indulge in some Britney Spears, ĎN SYNC and those other types, but that he "doesnít own any of those CDs" and he always "hates [himself] for doing it afterwards!"
When Randy completes the filming of Queer as Folk in Toronto, he will return home to New York, where he and his boyfriend live. Randy met his boyfriend, who is also an actor, when he was 19. "Weíve been together now for three and a half years. Itís been really good. Sometimes itís frustrating to be apart, but he comes up and visits all the time" admits Randy.
When asked if people recognize him yet or not, and if he is ready to handle the fame that is associated with a successful acting career, Randy said, "Once in a while, I get noticed here because a lot of the extras are locals. They just stare at you and follow you around, and you get paranoid. But fame is not a goal of mine, I just want to act in good parts, and if fame is associated with that, so be it."
After this job, Randy hopes to take some time off and travel to Europe and Switzerland. Most importantly, Randy and the rest of the cast are hoping that the gay community will embrace and appreciate their work this December. "I just think this is the thing that the gay community has been waiting to see for a long time. And for once, this will give everyone what they want."
(Nov 2000) 'Boy Meets Queer World' from TV Guide
by Michael Ausiello; courtesy of Tony; [published in the November 20th, 2000 issue] Special thanks goes to James Tee for hosting this at http://users.eastlink.ca/~tee/qaf/
Theater-trained actor Randy Harrison makes his television debut with Showtime's provocative new series Queer as Folk ó and what an initiation it is. In the pilot episode, airing Dec. 3 on the cable network, the newcomer's 17-year-old alter ego, Justin, loses his virginity with a 29-year-old in a scene so sexually explicit that even the predominantly gay audience at last week's premiere screening in New York were squirming in their seats.
"It actually wasn't as much of an adjustment as I thought it would be," Harrison tells TV Guide Online of his transition from the stage to the small screen. "The cast is amazing and it's such a great environment up in Toronto (where Queer is shot). We all get along really well, which you sort of have to given the intimate nature of a lot of the stuff that we have to do. It's been really idyllic."
Although Queer as Folk delivers on its promise to be as racy as the British series on which it is based, Harrison points out that the show is not all skin and no substance. "If it were badly written, then I wouldn't have wanted to do it," he admits, "but the characters are so well written you want to play them."
Case in point: While the much talked about one-night stand between Justin and resident man-eater Brian (Gale Harold) may be graphic, it triggers a major awakening for Harrison's sheltered character. "It completely shakes him up," he says. "He's sort of thrown into this whole new world and quickly learns to adapt and play the game. It's really great to watch him become empowered and become more confident."
THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN SHORTEN TO SHOW THE PART ABOUT MR.HARRISON
(Nov 2000) 'Daring to be Queer as Folk' from
by Dennis Hensley; reprint text courtesy of Kevin Hewell; [published in the November 21st, 2000 issue] Special thanks goes to James Tee for hosting this at http://users.eastlink.ca/~tee/qaf/
More comfortable with that process, it seems, is 22 year-old Randy Harrison, making his TV debut as Justin, who's newly out and just fine with it. "The most challenging scenes aren't the most sexually provocative," shrugs the actor, who landed the part at his professional New York audition. "So far I've done a rimming scene, a hand-job scene, and several sex scenes, and those are easy. It's just moaning and getting in weird positions. The hard scenes are the emotional ones - like there's one in a therapist's office where I say to my mother, 'I like dick. I like getting fucked by dick, and I"m good at it too.' That was kind of hard."
It's lunchtime, and Harrison is leading the way through the gorgeously appointed set that is Brian's loft apartment, where a good deal of his aforementioned weird positions were executed. "This is my favorite part of the set, because the water comes down like a waterfall," he says, gesturing to Brian's five sided stainless steel and glass shower. "But it keeps changing temperature. We had to cut a million times during the sex scene, because it got really hot."
But then, as one of the show's two openly gay cast members, Harrison seems more than capable of handling the heat. "I'm aware of the dangers and repercussions [of being out]," says the Atlanta native, who has a boyfriend of 3Ĺ years, a fellow actor he met while studying drama at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. "The way I see it, if I'm not true to myself, it doesn't matter what else I'm doing. There's enough bullshit in this business. I don't really need to add any of my own."
The show's other out actor, Peter Paige, echoes Harrison's sentiments. "I've been out for so long, doing this show and going back into the closet seemed like an absurd idea," he says with a laugh. "There would have been phone calls from various corners of the country saying 'Come on!'" Though his character is decidedly larger-than-life fabulous, scoring the shows best zingers and skimpiest outfits ("I've stopped eating bread"), Paige sees Emmett as a far cry from the clichť screen queen who flames to keep the pain away. "He hates himself less than anybody in the piece," Paige asserts. "Somewhere along the way he just got it that he's OK, and if you don't like it, fuck off. I think that's revolutionary."
Of course, being revolutionary isn't always easy. Though the show's creators insist that the actors they cast were their number 1 choices, tracking them down proved harder than they expected. "Hundreds of actors would not even audition, and there were major agents who wouldn't send their clients to audition," says co-executive producer Cowen. "That was surprising."
Those who were cast admit that there was more deliberation involved in saying yes to "Queer As Folk" than your average job. In addition to the provocative subject matter, there was the Toronto location to consider as well as the fact that the actors were expected to sign on for five years. "When the screen-test offer came in, my manager basically said, 'I don't think you should do it,'" recalls Paige. "It was the sexual content, more than the gay content, he was really worried about. But I just finally said, 'I'd rather be a part of something risky than something beige.'"
Then, once the actors were cast, there was the matter of keeping them costumed. According to the producers, several presumably gay-friendly designers have refused to allow their duds to be featured on the show. "I find it disturbing that the Versace company says you can't show Versace," scoffs Cowen. "I mean, he was gay. Perry Ellis's company said no, and Perry Ellis died of AIDS. Abercrombie & Fitch, whose ads are so homoerotic, won't allow their clothes [to be shown]. That's extremely offensive, because they obviously want gay people's money but they also don't want to be associated with gay people, and gay people should know that."
"We must qualify this by saying that we really don't know if some of these places have a blanket policy to not place their products no matter what the material is," adds Lipman. "But there were certain letters. We had a scene where a character was just eating a brand of cereal..."
"Cocoa Puffs," interjects Cowen. "Let's say it."
"He wasn't doing anything sexual with the cereal," continues Lipman. "He was just eating it. So when you get feedback saying, 'We don't want gay people eating our cereal.' That's very disturbing to me."
The producers are curious to see if things will change once the show starts airing and people discover that "Queer As Folk" is not all boys, all nude, all the time. The program also deals with less eyebrow-raising facets of day-to-day gay life, such as being out at work, growing older, and taking care of the people you love. "Because all of the characters are gay, any story that you tell has a twist to it, even going to the grocery store," says Lipman. "In one episode our lesbian couple's baby gets sick, and the woman who is not the birth mother is not allowed in the emergency room. Until that point they were just happy parents like anyone else."
For Thea Gill and Michelle Clunie, the actresses who play the lesbian couple, dramatizing the frustrations, expected and unexpected, that come with starting a family made for a refreshing challenge. "It seems like any time I see lesbians portrayed in film, they have to be carrying guns and doing something dangerous," says Clunie, who plays no-nonsense attorney Melanie. "We're just two women trying to cope with life." But that doesn't mean they don't get frisky. "They are in sexual situations," vows Cowen. "They make love; we see that."
That's good news to Gill, who plays Melanie's lover, Lindsay, a college art teacher who was inseminated with her friend Brian's sperm. "It's been pretty subtle for us so far, so Michelle and I are like, 'OK, we're ready for our big sex scene now!'"
They'll surely get their chance - just not today. At the moment, Sparks and Paige are getting set to shoot a scene where a hilariously frazzled Michael packs to go away for a romantic weekend with Dr. Dave. Meanwhile, Harold is taking a break in the lunchroom. In a few minutes he'll join Harrison in a screening room where they'll view, for the first time, the just-edited "damn the age of consent" sex scenes they shot for the pilot episode a few months ago. He's both anxious and excited. "One day, Randy and I were sitting there between takes," recalls Harold, who declines to discuss his offscreen love life. "I looked over and Randy had this strange look on his face and I said, 'What's wrong?' He said, 'You just look so old, and I look so young. I can't imagine how people are going to respond.' I think the ramifications of what we were doing hit him pretty hard at the moment. After that, I got such a rush thinking about the 17-year-olds that are going to be watching. They're going to say, 'That's me, right there!' That, to me, is freedom: being able to say, 'This is my life,' and it's about fucking time somebody showed it the way that it is."
That warts-and-all sense of realism, more than the show's much-heralded naughty bits, is what the creators believe audiences will ultimately remember. "The cast screened some of the pilot last week," reports co-executive producer Lipman, "and one of them called me and said, 'You hear about all of the graphic sexual scenes, but in the end, it's the characters you come away with. That's all you care about.' I'll be happy if we achieve that, because that's what any good show does."
2000) 'Showing and Telling with Folk Cast' from Chicago's
Windy City Times
by Lawrence Ferber; courtesy of Occam's Razor;[published in the November 22nd, 2000 issue] Special thanks goes to James Tee for hosting this at http://users.eastlink.ca/~tee/qaf/
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."
(Nov 2000) 'Queer as F*ck'
by Benjie Nycum; courtesy of dicaprio69; [published in the November 2000 issue] Special thanks goes to James Tee for hosting this at http://users.eastlink.ca/~tee/qaf/
Justin is 17, He goes to a private school in Pittsburgh. He has wild sex with 29-year-old Brian-- on television. And that's just the beginning of Showtime TV's new series Queer as Folk.
Queer as Folk is a scorching hot new series based on the runaway successful British version. Now the show's been made America, moved from Manchester to Pittsburgh, and everybody's favorite blonde hottie 15 yo Nathan Maloney has become 17yo Justin. The part is played by the real-life Randy Harrison, who-- though he's 22-- could easily pass for 15. In the first episode, to air Dec 3, Justin has his first sexual encounter with the 29yo Brian, which changes his life. He's smitten and develops an emotional attachment, but both of them are really after the sex. And unusually for American TV, they get it. This attachment is complicated by Brian's friend Michael [who always loved Brian.] Of course-- we saw this coming didn't we?-- Michael starts to reset Justin, and one can only image the delicious drama unfolding from there.
If you're familiar with the British show, this will all be familiar. But remembering from the British version that Brian character [Stuart] is sometimes a total dick, I ask just how it might be possible for Justin to fall for him so completely. "Well it's a great study in the mechanics of desire" Randy says. But unlike the British version, in the American version the actor is gay. Randy came out to friends and family when he was 16 . "I wrote my parents a three-paged letter and left it on the kitchen table before they woke up one morning," he says. "Then I left, came out to my girlfriend of three years, and returned that evening to deal with my parents. I thought it was important that they had some time to deal with it individually before I stepped in. It turned out they were completely supportive. My dad said he'd never been more proud of me."
In fact like his character, Randy went to a conservative private school, "where it didn't seem worth it to rock the boat by making some huge declaration." He knew he'd soon be out of there, so he only came out to close friends: "All the friends I told reacted ideally," the says, "but then I'd never have gotten close with anyone who would have rejected me. "I'm very slow to trust." Randy is a graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music where he studied theater for 4 years. He has been acting since he was 7. "It was always something I loved. Even my mom was worried I'd become a stage kid, but the fact is I love acting, and I get depressed when I'm not doing it," he says.
Though he hasn't seen the British Queer as Folk, when he heard about the series, he knew he wanted the part. "I immediately knew I was perfect for it, even though Justin is quite a different person," he says. He got the part after two auditions. But he's not going to watch the UK version until after taping is done: that way he thinks he can keep his Justin role as fresh and unfiltered as possible.
A big question on people's minds: will gay teens relate to Justin? "Yes, I think they will," Randy says. "I think It will be an enormous comfort to suddenly see a gay teen depicted on television with such candor and complexity." But he's also careful to mention that Justin isn't intended to represent all gay teens. "Justin is NOT a depiction of all gay teen life. He's just one 17-year-old gay boy and it's just his one specific story. He's not intended to represent the 'typical gay teen experience.' The writers wisely steered clear of 'representations', choosing instead to focus on these specific human beings and their individual lives."
The British Queer as Folk raised age-of-consent eyebrows [to say the least] and since Showtime's version will show a 17 year old having sex with a 29 year old, that same reaction is assured here. Randy doesn't care. "Frankly, I've never know the age of consent to prevent an adult and a minor from having sex of there was a mutual attraction and consent, within reason. It will definitely leave many people thinking about age of consent laws. Can we really determine an age where one becomes capable of dealing with the implications of sexual interaction? Do we ever really handle sex like adults?"
There will be 22 episodes of Queer as Folk and Randy has been making one episode every 7 working days . That rigorous schedule doesn't allow him to get to his New York home very much to enjoy the company of his boyfriend. "It's very hard to manage my personal and working life, especially living so far away," he says. But at a time when gay actors are less and less afraid to be typecast as gay characters for the rest of their lives, he isn't too concerned. He's sure this was one really good career move for him. We can already tell he's going to be sensational.
Will the very controversial Queer as Folk catapult him into gay teen hero status? Randy won't guess. But, he says, "I'm not not excited. I just want to be a good actor and I'm really proud of the work I'm doing. Queer as Folk shows important things to a big audience and it's about time these characters existed on television. And I'm just really happy about that."
THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN SHORTEN TO SHOW THE PART ABOUT MR.HARRISON
(Sept 2000) 'The Queerest Show on Earth' from New York Magazine
by Charles Kaiser - courtesy of Teri Vogel; [in the Sept 8th, 2000 issue] Special thanks goes to James Tee for hosting this at http://users.eastlink.ca/~tee/qaf/
...............Most people who know about the new production assumed that it would be toned down after word leaked out that Showtime had decided to age the youngest character from 15 to 17. But the producers have figured out how to have it both ways on the age issue: To fill the youngest role, they found a blond newcomer named Randy Harrison who looks about 14 even though he's about to celebrate his 23rd birthday. Harrison graduated from the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music last March, did a single showcase in New York, found an agent, and landed the role of a lifetime last summer. Queer As Folk is the very first time he's ever been in front of a camera, and the director is already calling him "the two-take wonder."
As a member of Generation Y, Harrison felt little hesitation about announcing that he was gay. "I knew that if I ever were to become famous, I would be myself. I've had a boyfriend for three and a half years. I'm proud of that."
Unlike the character he plays, Harrison is a stranger to the gay club scene -- he never even bothered to go to the gym until he landed this role. On the other hand, he wasn't the least bit intimidated by the sex scenes, although he did find it tedious to have to fake so many orgasms "over and over and over again." He says he's warned his parents about what to expect, but "I don't think they believe it entirely. They keep saying, 'Well, they can't show anything too bad on TV.' And I keep saying, 'It's going to surprise you.' "