The Actor’s Life – Catching Up with Gale Harold

[ 35 ] June 7, 2010 |
 
by bill biss
Millions of television viewers were enthralled with Gale Harold, the handsome and magnetic star of the groundbreaking Showtime series called Queer As Folk.
 
The show ran six seasons and was a landmark in television history for it’s realistic, humorous and quite sexual look at the lifestyles and friendships of a group of gay men.
 
It’s been five years since Queer As Folk went off the air. Yet the show still retains its popularity to new audiences around the world.
 
For gay men everywhere, Harold still ranks as part of television’s favorite gay couple for his role as Brian opposite Randy Harrison as Justin in Queer As Folk.
 
Since 2006, Gale Harold has been managing a successful career as an actor who has done both television and film work while balancing important theatre roles in between.
 
The Rage Monthly wanted to shed new light on this intelligent, articulate and thoughtful actor and learn more about just what he’s been up to, his memories of the experience of being part of such a successful show and his thoughts on the acting profession as it relates to his craft.
 
Gale Harold along with Jennifer Beals are being honored for their contribution to the LGBT experience for their roles in Queer As Folk and The L Word on June 5 at The Center Orange County 2010 Gala Celebration.
 
Whether it is on the stage in recent productions of two plays by Tennessee Williams or guest starring on television in Desperate Housewives and CSI: New York, how does Harold feel that he has grown as an actor over the past few years?
 
“Well…it’s a constant process of growing. It depends on the type of roles that you are playing and whether you are live or in front of the camera. But also just with studying, you know. It’s hard to look back over a couple of years and say this or that ‘has or hasn’t changed’ but I did my first role singing and playing guitar in front of a live audience [in Orpheus Descending] which was terrifying so…that was certainly a new thing.”
 
Gale Harold is quite familiar with playwright Tennessee Williams. He has recently starred as Valentine in Orpheus Descending and also as Dr. Cukrowicz in Suddenly Last Summer. Harold explains what captivates him about Williams’ work as a playwright.
 
“It’s very simple. The work is so extraordinary. It’s beyond any normal observation or conviction of passion. He’s got so many different veins of lifeblood, if that’s a way to describe it. I would love to do anything he’s written.
 
It would be an honor to do anything he wrote because he went deeper and was more revealing than most at a time when it wasn’t very safe to do so. And he did it so lyrically and beautiful that it comes through to a reader or an audience and his message keeps coming across long afterward.”
 
The impact of his role as Brian in Queer As Folk made a lasting impression on LGBT audiences. Asking Gale to reflect back on the show, he shares one of his most vivid memories of that time in his career.
 
“There are so many. There are hundreds of specific memories but I think in terms of an overall memory that comes back to me…is how invigorating it was to be working on the role. It was frightening to me taking on that part because I had seen Aiden Gillen in the original by Russell T. Davies.
 
I’m glad that I did but it was such a strong performance, I wanted to bring something that could stand up to it. It was such a bold character and a bold performance…I needed to let everything happen as it should and try to be honest at all times. That’s one of the things I really remember. Stepping off the bridge into the void…you know?
 
It was also incredibly fun and stimulating. It was a little touch and go at first because I just had to make choices and not let myself be swayed by my own self-editing or nervousness. It was very clear to me that I was taking on a very important responsibility, but I didn’t want myself to get bogged down by trying to do ‘the right thing.’
 
I didn’t want to live up to a bunch of expectations that would be unrealistic to the life the character was leading. He [Brian] represented a dynamic of social reality and issues that you had to honor. Most of the artists that I love, have or had a secret and it’s a difficult thing to tell the secret in a new way. You know what I mean?”
 
Harold didn’t always dream of being an actor when he was younger. He explains, “My story is that I didn’t start out dreaming to be an actor. I always understood playwriting as more of a literary thing.
 
I read plays but I didn’t see any theatre as a kid. I wasn’t raised in the theatre. That wasn’t the way I was raised. When I made that sort of change and started studying what it was actually like…the method of putting a character across, I studied three years straight before I went on an audition.
 
It wasn’t like I was selling ice cream and the next moment I was on television…you know? (laughter) I moved to Los Angeles and was fortunate to meet some really great people and started studying. It just grew very naturally. I was very lucky.
 
Not only to get a break but to be able to work around some people who I really loved and trusted who were good teachers for me.”
 
Asking Harold about the recent Newsweek article by openly gay Ramin Setoodeh in which the writer questioned the ability of gay actors to play straight roles (Sean Hayes for one), Harold weighs in by saying, “I think that was ill-conceived, and a little strange for someone who should be supporting his comrades to take a shot like that.
 
But, hopefully he’ll learn a lesson when he goes to “Glee” school and understand things better. To take a shot at Sean Hayes who has a really established career on stage and on screen. Someone who now is a successful, out, working actor and to take a shot at him in Newsweek just seems so petty, you know?”
 
Gale offers up an additional memory of Queer As Folk that still resonates with him today regarding actress Sharon Gless. “There’s a scene that Sharon and I did in my loft smoking a joint. It’s probably one of my most favorite scenes. I feel it’s some of the best work that I did in the show.
 
It’s a moment where Brian is so alone! He actually gets to jack into someone in a way that’s just about love you know? It’s about what he couldn’t get from his own family; he got it from his best friend’s mother. I think that’s a beautiful thing. It’s kind of how life is more often than not.
 
Sometimes we have to take love where we can find it. He was fortunate to have Michael [actor Hal Sparks] as a friend and then to have Michael’s mother, Debbie [Sharon Gless] give him some heart. He didn’t have a lot of it in his own home.”
 
The whole cast of Queer As Folk contributed so much to the exposure and visibility of gays and lesbians on television. Gale Harold describes the impact of being on the show and says, “I think as an ensemble, or as a production, that whatever your sexual orientation is…if you happened to see it, hopefully you enjoyed it (laughter).”
 
“First of all, it was some sort of a calling card or announcement. This is where it gets difficult for me because I never want to play the part of tooting our own horn.
 
The stories were told by these characters who lived their lives and we as actors were just given the opportunity to portray them. People who had seen the show and were able to relate to the story and to the characters were contacting a lot of us.
 
A lot of young kids that I met when we were out there, were very happy and excited to have the opportunity to watch a story that was like theirs. To have those tables turned and be able to find yourself or some part of yourself, your own dreams or struggles that you have gone through…we were very grateful to be a part of that.”

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Comments (35)

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  1. Kari says:

    Thank you for this interview! I loved it. Gale Harold is such an incredible actor and beautiful soul. Love him:)

  2. leenabeth says:

    Thanks for such a fine interview. Glad to discover you!
    Gale is so eloquent about his passions: "Most of the artists that I love, have or had a secret, and it’s a difficult thing to tell the secret in a new way." That's so lovely: it's like blank verse.
    All Gale's scenes with Sharon Gless are magic, but "smoking in the loft" is her favorite of the whole 5-year series. She gave a wonderful interview a year ago to The Hump Day Crew and COULD NOT WAIT to share her love for that scene. Her enthusiasm was so contagious, and she gave a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes: that scene is the longest one of the series, over 7 minutes, and she argued for letting it run, because "the pauses were as important as the words." And she's right: it's a very moving expression of how many of us create the family that we need.

  3. MLD says:

    The show ran for 5 seasons:  premiered in 2000, ended in 2005.  Other than that, brilliant! :)

  4. Yvonne says:

    I love how open and honest he is in all his interviews.

    Hes such an awesome actor and deserves to have many many more great roles to show that off.

    I love him and think every role hes had ever ever played,he truly did it justice.
    **Hugs him tight**

  5. furriboots says:

    A truly amazing actor and fascinating person. He needs to have staring role in a new TV show!
     

  6. Kathleen says:

    Gale Harold is a class act and actor. Thank you for this interview, I just wish there was more…

  7. ducdebrabant says:

    Wonderful interview!  He's just coming off the best reviews of his career (for "Orpheus Descending") so I hope his next project will be worthy of his talent.  I'm also glad to hear his take on Ramin Setoodeh's article, which was a true disgrace.  But come on, this is one of the handsomest men alive.  Couldn't you have used a better picture?  One of the ones I've seen from the Orange County event would have been better.

  8. cybers says:

    Great interview.  I was fortunate enough to see him in Orpheus Descending and I'd be perfectly happy for him to do more Tennessee Williams.  I love his take on Williams:  "It would be an honor to do anything he wrote because he went deeper and was more revealing than most at a time when it wasn’t very safe to do so. And he did it so lyrically and beautiful that it comes through to a reader or an audience and his message keeps coming across long afterward," as I do believe that's one of the reasons why fans are still so taken with Mr. Harold and the character of Brian Kinney as well.   

  9. CF says:

    Thank you for the interview and I agree with the above comments. He's an amazing actor who deserves more leading roles.

  10. Virginia Wolf says:

    Thank you so much for this. I'm a big fan of Gale's and interviews with him nowadays are rare. And he was quite verbose this time, so I appreciate you for the new info.

  11. RJ Smith says:

    Thanks for this interview! I don't quite know how you do it— But, every issue you keep proving you are "All The Rage"! I have followed Gale for sometime on TV & interviews he is amazing. This has to be one of the finest interviews and the most open he has ever been to anyone.
    When are you going National with Rage Magazine!
    RJ

  12. Armand says:

    I’ve always admired Gale Harold for his sincerity and passion.  His acting is top notch.  It was a pleasure to catch up with him here.  I hope we will be seeing more of him soon. 

  13. Sandra says:

    A wonderful interview…thank you for it!
    Gale is a wonderful and amazing actor and it was nice to learn some new things about him.
    I treasure the memory of seeing him in Suddenly Last Summer and having the chance to meet  and talk to him.  I look forward to seeing him in more roles that show his great acting talent. Hopefully there will not be long to wait!

  14. Jane says:

    Thanks for the interview. I always find that whatever Gale is saying is thoughtful, insightful and worth the read

  15. Tim says:

    Rage Magazine…Thanks for the interview with Gale. I've been picking up your magazine since you started the Orange-LA version. So, I just wanted to check out your website and get contact info on your staff but found this blog. It is always by chance that I get a copy nice to see that it is online. But, I want the real thing. I'm subscribing today so I get it in the mail every month.

  16. Romy says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful interview!! Gale Harold is an amazing actor and a smart human being. I hope he gets all the work and the recognition he deserves 

  17. Suzy says:

    Thank you so much for this interviews! Gale is a great man and actor, this is one of many splendid interviews with him. We need him more on TV, I hope we'll watch it. I wish him all the luck in work and life!

  18. David says:

    WOw, he's really brainy.  I thought most actors were borderline retarded.  Guess I'll have to rethink things. 

  19. RussBBinVegas@aol.com says:

    Brian's boyfriend Justin all through the QAF series was a cutie pie, and of course I loved them both and ate up every minute of their inter-action & scenes together, but imagine if Gale Harold's character had come up against his equal in the charisma, looks, & alpha-male dynamism department.  For instance, Bradley Cooper.  Man oh man, can you even picture the famous "rip open the condom foil with your teeth" gesture, if 2 men of this caliber got together in a television drama!

  20. Amlaali says:

    As much as I respect Gale Harold for wanting to keep his private life private, I can't help but get excited when an interview pops up. Thanks for the interview. I really do hope that we'll be seeing a lot more of Mr. Harold – whether it's on stage, television, or on screen.

  21. dm says:

    This is an amazing interview and Gale is one great amazing actor.

  22. Kami says:

    Oh, thank you so much for the interview. I am a big fan of mr. Harold, and I am always looking forward to reading his interviews – it always makes me want to go on and make some cool stuff just like he does. Sincerely, he's a genius.

  23. Giulia says:

    Thank you so much for this interview!! Gale is one of the best actors out there and he always shows a great personality and i always thrilled to hear about him. As Jane said: everytime i saw he made a new interview, i know it will be so worth read. Hopefully we will see him more often!! He deserve so much more! His acting skills are impressive.

  24. karen says:

    I can't get enough info on Gale Harold! Not only is he the most handsome actor out there but also talented. My hope is he gets more and more work as he deserves.  I would love to see him in a weekly show again. A note to Gail(not that he reads these) got to love those Ducati's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Dick says:

    Gale is currently shooting a psycho-thriller called REHAB. He plays a doctor with a God complex.

  26. Brian says:

    I loved Queer As Folk, and I was sorry that it went off the air, I was especially sad to see that the producers kept cutting the number of episodes back more and more each season.  I also heard that Randy Harrison said in an interview or an article in a magazine that he decided even if there was going to be a sixth season of QAF he wouldn't return as Justin because the role was old to him and he wanted to move on to something new.  I can't fault him for wanting to do something different or new, but I do think he was a little ingrate to turn down a paying acting job in this economy, especially when he was perfect for the role of Justin Taylor.  I wish Gale Harold would be hired for an acting job on a new television series because I miss seeing him act.  I for one would love to see a Queer As Folk movie.  I mean if someone in hollywood is going to use millions of dollars to fund a "Sex in the City" movie and it's seqeal, surely we can have a QAF movie, right?

  27. Alexis says:

    Thanks for this interview. He is so talented – just an amazing actor. I get really excited every time he does an interview about Brian.

  28. jmck says:

    Gale is mesmerizing in all roles he undertakes.  He is masterful in keeping his personal life private which is a welcome relief from all the Hollywood overkill of tweeting etc.  He brings a sense of mystery and intrigue whenever I see the rare article about him.  I think he could be a leading man in anything with his keen intelligence and otherworldly good looks.  I only wish someone had you tubed his singing and playing guitar in Orpheus Descending – that would have had millions of hits.  there are alot of us out here who are diehard fans of his great talent.  LOVED him in QAF – have worn out the dvd's and the FFwarding to get to all of Brian Kinney's parts.  Good luck in all you do Gale.
     
     
     

  29. ronak says:

    Gale Harold is so good I can't start to tell.. I was a "neutral on the issue" of homosexuality when I stumbled upon QAF. I was hooked on to it, I postponed my important finals until 4 months later as I would not or rather could not function beyond watching QAF!! I love Will and Grace; but QAF made me look into LGBT community with a new, more open eye. I haven't seen GH in other TV, I guess he has worked in some crime series,  I don't think it did any justice to the talent he is! I look forward to seeing more of his work! Love ya hottie!! ( I now watch each and every gay movie i l can find and I love the romance..well I'm sure every straight girl would love it!!!) Actually I love the LGBT culture so much I "phewed"/"panicked" my homie when I thought out aloud if I could be "honorary gay"(not lesbian but gay :))

  30. Miki says:

    Queer As Folk touched so many people, not just gay people. I’m staight and loved the show, I was almost addicted to it :-) Gale is an AMAZING actor and seems like a smart, down to earth person. Good luck to him and all the other actors on QAF. There hasn’t been a show like that ever since.

  31. JingC says:

    I love QAF and Brian is so brilliant. I’m addicted to it.
    By the way, it runs only five seasons.

  32. Sandra says:

    Gale, You’re such a unique and amazing person.
    We love you.

    From your beautiful fans all over the world♥

  33. Ellie says:

    Hey QAF fans ~ does anybody know which episode Gale’s referring to with Sharon (Debbie) at his loft smoking a joint? I thought I saw just about every episode, but I can’t recall that scene. Would love to look it up. Thanks! ~E

  34. John says:

    I think… his character is something… which moves everything in one’s life… I don’t about his real life… but Brian is a true MAN… it doesnt matter if you are gay or straight.. all it matters.. whether… you are true to yourself or not… his character has brought a new life in me…new excitement towards life… would want to live ma life all like him… except a few where I know I shouldn’t hurt… on another note… Gale indeed, is a versatile actor….. I have several scenes of him… which I see over and over again… just to see his way of portraying things… It would be too dramatic to realize to meet him… which is kinda next to impossible… knowing who he is in the star world… nothing the less… I would like him to see this comment… which means a lot to me… that’s all is needed… :)

  35. Highly descriptive article, I enjoyed that a lot. Will there
    be a part 2?

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