Michael Urie Takes On Barbra Streisand in ‘Buyer & Cellar': INTERVIEW

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?’’

Michael_UrieSo, 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
other actors.

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.

BuyerCellar_40Also, 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
differentexcept for that one box you

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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos:sandra coudert, jeff ellingson)