Andrew Rannells: ‘I am Gay in Real Life’

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Andrew Rannells, star of Book of Mormon and the upcoming The New Normal, talks to Vulture about his role in the HBO series Girls, and talks candidly about his sexuality with regard to his Girls character Elijah, the gay ex-boyfriend of Girls character Hannah:

I am gay in real life, so I definitely get it. But it’s not my story — I wasn’t closeted for any amount of time. I never had a girlfriend who I had that experience with. It’s less that Elijah knew he was gay and continued to date Hannah anyway and more that he wasn’t ready to admit to himself that he was gay. I think that’s probably the more common thing, particularly with young homosexuals. Coming out can be super super complicated, especially when it comes to families and friends —and if you already have a girlfriend, what does that mean for her? I hope that changes over time, but coming is very personal and everybody obviously has to do it in their own time. So, no, I don’t think he did anything bad.

Vulture follows up by asking Rannells if he feels a special investment in gay characters he plays?

Well, there’s a part of me that would say I treat every character in the same way — to be as honest as possible with every role. But then, as a gay man, I think there’s a responsibility to show a fully realized person, so even though Elijah might not be the the best person in the world, I want to make him as fully fleshed out and human as possible. Because chances are he’s gonna represent somebody who’s a real person. With The New Normal, I feel even a larger responsibility because it’s sort of a new idea for a lot of viewers and Americans, to see Justin Bartha and I play this very much in love couple who just wants to have a baby. We’re telling that story for the first time, in a way, for a lot of people, so I think there’s a lot of responsibility there.

Is this the first time that Rannells has spoken publicly about being gay, as our tipster tells me? Was there just another casual coming out? Some of you readers can no doubt point us to it if so.

Read the full interview here.

Comments

  1. Blake says

    Just like Quinto, Bomer and Parsons, many of us were in the know that Rannells was one of the family.

    But it is still a big deal for the general (straight) population to know as well, so they all deserve a thank you for making it known to everyone.

  2. theotherlee says

    For purely base reasons alone, I am looking forward to this show. I’ve had a ‘thing’ for Justin Bartha for years, and the idea of watching him weekly play a gay guy just gives me the warm and fuzzies.

    I hope there will be affection displayed And between Bartha and Rannells.

    I know… tacky.. Sue me. heh

  3. Ryan says

    I was a little scared reading in the interview about how his character ‘maybe isn’t the best person.’

    There’s a fine, fine line between ‘maybe not the best person’ and someone who basically comfirms every homophobe’s suspicions are about what it means for gay people to want to raise a family.

    I hope Ryan Murphy knows what he’s doing.

    I don’t want these two characters to be neutered and boring, but ultimately they have to be heart warming and the kind of people that we watch every episode, knowing they’ll make good parents when that baby is born.

    Maybe I shouldn’t be worried, but this is a powerful opportunity here to not only entertain, but to make everyone see that gay families are ultimately the same as any other kind.

    So, hopefully the entertainment focuses more on real-life issues and real-life characters, and not Sue-Sylvester-like scheming from his character.

  4. JAMES in Toronto says

    @theotherlee… No, I quite understand what you’re saying. I find both of them attractive, and yes, they actually look like a genuine couple.

    Now, give me good chemistry, and a display of affection, and I’ll be a devoted viewer.

  5. Blake says

    @RYAN His character in Girls was the “questionable” one, not his character in The New Normal, so there is no need to fear Ryan Murphy, yet!

  6. Craig S says

    I can attest that statements about his sexual orientation have been added to his Wikipedia article in the past, but they were never properly sourced and were consequently removed. That said, I don’t know whether that’s because he’s never actually stated it in the media before this, or because people just weren’t bothering with proper sourcing (which is always an issue on Wikipedia even when legitimate sources do exist.)

    It’s there now, though, sourced to this interview.

  7. Edd says

    I hope that changes over time, but coming is very personal and everybody obviously has to do it in their own time. So, no, I don’t think he did anything bad.

    Somewhere in there, the word “OUT” is missing.

  8. Mike says

    @ Ryan: “I hope Ryan Murphy knows what he’s doing.”

    Don’t worry, RM will ruin this show. Nobody can ruin a show in less than three episodes like RM can. Glee…American Horror Story…

    Just wait.

  9. CB says

    Ryan Murphy shows go like this. Amazing 1st year. 2nd year sucks. 3rd year small creative rebound. And then it’s downhill from there.

    It’s happens over and over again.

  10. joe c says

    Anyone who’s a serious Pokémon fan knows he’s gay. Search YouTube for clips from the anime for the character Harley he voiced before he made it big on Broadway.

  11. Jeff NYC says

    He is perfection. This was not a coming out, but at the Broadway Backwards benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS–in which male and female performers sing songs written for the opposite sex while leaving the he’s and she’s in the lyrics intact–he sang the torch song from the Broadway version of Funny Girl, “His Is the Only Music That Makes Me Dance”:

  12. Craig says

    There is something in the interview that I find particularly interesting and gratifying. The fact that he states that he was never really “in” the closet. It seems that we’re well into the first generation of “post closet” gays. Meaning all these kids in there 20s that have just always been out, there was no big drama, they’ve just always lived their lives openly gay. Sure there were individuals in the past who bravely did this, but for guys my age (42) and older coming out was a necessary and usually messy right of passage. (In my own opinion of course). I love that these kids are just already out.

  13. Jere says

    This was not a coming out, so much as it was an acknowledgement that, until recently, no one outside the New York theatre community had ever heard of Andrew Rannells. He has been out and about in New York for years and no one cared, because, well, no one does here. But, now that Rannells is heading to television and becoming known on a wider scale, he’s now doing more media interviews and the subject was bound to come up sooner or later.

  14. Blake says

    The marketability of openly gay actors has never really been tested, because producers, etcetera do not allow them to be cast in significant roles.

    At least Ryan Murphy, who has some clout (in the television world), is willing to test openly gay actors with viewers.

    So maybe ZQ, MB, JP & AR will never have massive mainstream movie careers, which would be very unfortunate, but sadly a real possibility, but hopefully they will have a home on television.

  15. Scottevill says

    Love him on Girls. I wish him success with the Ryan Murphy sitcom, but hope it doesn’t mean he won’t be able to recur on Girls next season.

  16. David says

    He took a male date to the Tonys the year he was up. Seemed pretty out to me at the time. Why does there have to be a press conference or a tweet? Just the mention in normal conversation that one is gay as seems appropriate at the moment and in te course of the questioning is great. It makes his gayness what it should be, just a normal part of existence.

    And he’s damn cute to boot!

  17. ThomT says

    “The New Normal” – I despise the title but will give it a try because I loved Andrew Rannells in “The Book of Mormon”. My hope is that they don’t turn out like the gay couple on “Modern Family” – if ever there 15 a need to refresh ones memory of gay stereotypes you would only have to look at Cameron and Mitchell. I tried repeatedly to watch the much heralded and critically acclaimed “Modern Family” yet can’t get past all of the cartoonish stereotypes – the hot tempered full figured Gloria who mangles the English language, the slightly homophobic old man over compensating for luck in scoring a trophy wife, the gay couple who obsess over the flower arrangements and virtually everything else, etc. etc. etc. I want to see gay characters that don’t come across like Jack McFarland (Will & Grace) – oh how I miss Kevin & Scotty from “Brothers & Sisters”.

  18. Gary says

    Since this show has nothing remotely to do with most American’s normal reality, I can see it canceling quickly. Ryan Murphy’s pomposity to create “The New Normal” reeks of unreality. “Glee” must have deluded him into believing he was the second coming when it came to molding, creating and shaping the gay image for television. What would appear to be so cutting edge,is simply his unleashing of his latest gay brain fart. If it flops it will do more harm than good. Wouldn’t that be refreshing — the possibility of a realistic gay drama.

  19. JOHNt5534 says

    Great story and interview. Just one gripe, Towleroad – and this seems to happen with some frequency with your posts: would it be too much trouble to caption the pics if there is more than one person pictured?

    I know, some of us are not as up to date with cable shows, and RJ posted that Rennels is the guy on the left, but the picture of him in the linked article looks like the guy on the RIGHT. Please clarify.

  20. Waynesf says

    MIKE: you hit the nail on the head. Ryan Murphy has great ideas, interesting premises, terrific pilots… but it all goes quickly pear-shaped. Time and time again, character is sacrificed for plot twists in his shows.

  21. ThomT says

    He basically says it himself – he didn’t come out because he was never not out. It was widely known in NYC theatre community that Andrew is gay and, as with many in the entertainment field it simply wasn’t an issue. Randalls was terrific in “The Book of Mormon” and the only down side to his casting in “The New Normal” is that America won’t get to hear him sing. I’m not a big fan of sit-coms but I’ll give this one a fair shot and hope that it’s a hige success regardless of my own personal opinion.

  22. Bob says

    NO MATTER HOW SILLY THE PILOT SEEMED ———————
    EVERYONE PLEASE WATCH “THE NEW NORMAL” EPISODE THAT RAN SUNDAY
    — really illustrating the hurt of public insult of Gay folks

  23. Josh says

    Anyone else feel uncomfortable with the title of the show? The New Normal? Does anyone else feel like that means it was not normal before and we have to make a “new normal” to make it okay? I don’t like that. Seems clumsy.

  24. says

    My husband, Jim Brochu, also sang and danced at that Broadway Backwards with Andrew Rannells. He is the sweetest guy imaginable. I think he even kissed us on the lips. He’s just so very talented. It’s thrilling to have him on TV. And I love the new show. That last episode with all the political speeches was boring as hell, but any show with a 9 yr old who imitates Little Edie from Grey Gardens is my kind of show.

  25. jeff says

    Andrew Rannells gave my husband and I one of the most incredible theatre experiences of our longish lives. We were able to see him in the lead role in The Book Of Mormon at the Eugene O’Neill theater in Sept of 2011. He was spectacular! The whole cast and production was so funny and touching that I count it up there in our top theatre experiences. So proud of him as a “family member”.

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