But to answer your question about what I knew of her, I would say I was a fan
but not a fanatic. I had seen her in concert once and loved it, and I knew her
1990-something comeback concert because my mom and I used to listen to it. It’s
so funny, I listened to that concert album again [recently] and I remembered very
vividly asking my mom, ‘What does it mean when she says ‘I kept my nose to
spite my face?’’
So, my memories of Barbra go way back, but they certainly
aren’t that extensive. There was that concert, I loved Hello, Dolly! and I’d seen other movies. Also I remember very, very
clearly when I saw Meet The Fockers—not
Little Fockers, but Meet The Fockers—thinking that she’s
absolutely brilliant in that movie. Those were my Barbra benchmarks, I would
Of course now,
like Alex in the play, I have become a fanatic.
NK: How would you feel if Barbra came to see the show?
MU: (Woof) I don’t
know. I don’t know! I don’t know, that would be crazy. It would be really crazy. I think on the one hand,
they would have to not tell me. But on the other hand, I think maybe I’d want
to do it a little differently if she were out there? But I do feel really good
about what we’re putting out there. It’s a really loving portrayal, in that
it’s a love story in a lot of ways, about her. If anything you come away liking
her more than you did when you walked in. At least that’s the hope, and I feel
like we’re doing it. Nobody’s been like, ‘You really let her have it!’ [Laughs]
NK: I know you trained at Julliard and you’re a theatre guy,
what are the different challenges and rewards you find in performing for
theatre versus television and film?
MU: Performing in front of an audience is the greatest thing
in the world. It’s like a drug. I love the theatre, and when I was doing TV, I
would do a play every time I wasn’t doing TV.
Obviously the scope and exposure of television is so great,
and the family you make working on a long running show like Ugly Betty is such a close group of
people. That’s the thing I’ve missed a lot about this show, is working with
I always come back [to theatre] and I always want to be on
stage, and doing great works. It really feeds your soul.
NK: You’ve said before that you find being open about your
sexuality has helped your career, though not every actor feels the same way
about their own private life. Can you speak a bit more about this?
MU: We all have an idea of what kind of an actor we think
we’re going to be, or what kind of actor we want to be, and there’s no way I
could have ever predicted that my career would end up the way it is. If I was
not open about who I am and if I was not open to playing gay parts, then I
would not have the scope of work that I have. I think more than being open
about my sexuality, being open about the sexuality of the characters I play is
what keeps me busy.
Also, just because the sexuality is the same from character
to character, doesn’t mean I’m doing the same thing over and over again. I
would get bored that way, that wouldn’t be interesting to me. If someone said,
‘Hey, we want you to play the part of a fashionable, snarky gay guy who works
for a domineering, hilarious, evil boss.’ I would probably say that’s exactly
what I did on Ugly Betty, and I
probably wouldn’t want to do that.
I’ve been lucky enough to be offered gay parts that are so
fascinating, like the part I’m playing in Buyer
& Cellar. If I had a no gay part policy, I never would’ve been able to
do it. You can’t possibly compare [some of the parts I’ve played] they’re totally
different—except for that one box you
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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos:sandra coudert, jeff ellingson)