Desperate to avoid his family’s judgment about his perpetual single status, Peter (Michael Urie) convinces his best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to join him for the holidays and pretend that they’re now in a relationship. But when Peter’s mother (Kathy Najimy) sets him up on a blind date with her handsome trainer James (Luke Macfarlane)— the plan goes awry.
Single All The Way releases on Netflix on December 2nd. We chatted with Michael at a special screening of the film at The Roxy, check our chat below.
The Knockturnal: Are you still surprised by how many barriers you’re still breaking today?
Michael Urie: Well it does surprise me whenever I think about the statistic that this is the first Netflix, gay, holiday rom-com. That just seems crazy. And knowing that there hasn’t really been a mainstream gay Christmas movie or gay rom-com either is kind of mind-blowing. So yea, sometimes I do think “how are there still so many walls to tear down for gay people, and media, and queer stories, and queer joy to get out there”, but on the other hand I’m super proud to be this pioneer and to be a part of this kind of a movie that has never been, this sort of new genre that felt inevitable but is upon us. I think it’s very moving that the movie is not about coming out, it’s not about homophobia, there’s no trauma … My problem in the movie is being single not being gay and that’s really great. I played gay many many times, and there’s lots of lots of lots of ways gay people have problems that have nothing to do with them being gay. And we can tell all of those stories and especially a story about a guy whose family loves him so much they will do anything to get him coupled to a man! That’s beautiful, and that is something that people are gonna see. People on Netflix are gonna see that and not have known before that it was possible. It’s gonna be new information for some people and that’s really exciting and beautiful. It’s not just somebody seeing the story of a coming-out or of you know a hate crime or of homophobia and saying, “Oh god, I’m seen! Thank god I’m not alone” it’s someone seeing what’s possible. It is possible for you to have a family that loves you, to have people around you who love you and care about you and they love you so much they’ll go to ridiculous ends to get you into a relationship.
The Knockturnal: Were you ever in a wild love triangle before? Were you able to draw on any inspiration?
Michael Urie: Oh good question! Ummm.. You know what’s so funny? The first thing that comes to my mind is the first time I ever like really openly flirted with somebody was the summer after I graduated high school. Hi Michael Mayer! I was competing in a speech tournament, a national speech tournament, and there were these boys there and it was like something about being away from home being around a bunch of new kids. There were these two boys and the three of us became friends … I can’t believe I’m telling you this story!
The Knockturnal: I’m getting the scoop!
Michael Urie: And we were all three from different parts of the country. And I was really into one of them, and I said something finally! We were like, it was like every night we would meet up in the hotel hallways and we would just talk all night, the three of us. And I finally said something to one of them and he was basically like, I liked number 1, and Number 1 was like “Well I like number 2”, and Number 2 was like “I like number 3..” The energy was there but we were all liking each other in the wrong directions.
The Knockturnal: Oh my god! So wait what happened?
Michael Urie: Nobody got any! I’ll never forget those boys. I don’t remember their names, but I’ll never forget. I can see them in my mind.
The Knockturnal: When pioneering do you feel pressure to make sure you get this right?
Michael Urie: For sure. I definitely wanted us to do this right. I wanted us not just to tell the story in an authentic way, I wanted the actors who play gay to be gay, and they are! You know and that’s not to say a straight actor couldn’t play gay they have and they will and vice versa but for this the first time out, the first mainstream holiday rom-com about gay people it was important. Our director is gay, our writer is gay and that was a move that was very important to me making sure we represent ourselves. And just to try to be as authentic in the work in the ways the characters interacted. You know like, Luke Macfarlane who plays James, he and I went to college together. We went to Juilliard together. And so like it was something about, even though we get to know each other in the movie, it was something about our history together as gay men who have known each other for 20 years that makes flirting so easy. Flirting is so fun on camera even with someone that is like making out with your brother you know which is what it was like with Luke. But it’s so fun and we were reconnecting we hadn’t seen each other in years and we adored each other. It’s just so cool. And then with Philemon, who plays Nick, we just met! And he’s like the most wonderful, sweet, delightful person and like brand new to show business and he and I were playing best friends so we spent so much time together in Montreal getting to know each other, and then so much time on set together because we had so many scenes together. And we got to sort of fall in love in that way so. I mean I’ve had great costars who were straight but played gay, but there is something about sharing space with queer people that is different. There’s no code-switching … it’s not performative, it’s just real and we got to do that. And I think it’s on the screen. I mean I keep saying — I’ve only watched this movie once, tonight will be the second time, when I watch this movie the way that the movie looks is the way it felt making it. And that’s a testament to Michael Mayer, our director, and the script, but I think also to all the actors, the great cast. What we saw on the page is what it felt like making it and it’s what it feels like to watch it. And that’s really rare.