Michael Urie: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Michael Urie guest stars on Modern Family tonight and is sure to dazzle audiences.

On tonight’s episode he plays fashion guru Gavin Sinclair with whom Hayley has an interview.

Learn more about the talented TV and theater actor.


1. He Was on ‘Ugly Betty’

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Urie was cast as “b**chy gay assistant” Marc St. James on Ugly Betty, starring America Ferrara in the titular role.

His character was supposed to be replaced, since the assistant was supposed to be fired by Vanessa Williams, who played the boss.

However, his acting skills and chemistry with Williams made him a mainstay from the entire run of the show, from 2006 to 2010.

He told Slant:

Vanessa and I got along immediately. I made this choice that I was obsessed with her character and I would emulate everything she did, which she loved. So we started playing together. And she would give me tips; if you stand close to me, you will be in this shot. And by the end of week they put me in the cast photo. And, of course, the rest is history.

2. He Doesn’t Consider Himself Gay, But Queer

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Although he played a gay character on Ugly Betty, he was not encouraged to speak about his sexuality then.

In an interview with Frontiers LA, he said,

“I was encouraged to stay in the closet. This was before Neil Patrick Harris had come out. Even though I was playing an openly gay character, we thought we might want to keep the mystery of what I do behind closed doors.”

However, he does not see himself as a gay man.

In a 2010 interview with The Advocate, he said, “I’ve never said I was straight, and I’m not saying I’m gay now. I never lie, and I’ve never shied away from the topic. I’ve certainly chosen through my work to do things that promote the rights of LGBTQ people. I am not a hypocrite—certainly not now.”

He does admit to being intimate with women and said, “I know that some people feel that way. They were with women, but it always felt wrong. But it didn’t for me. It felt right at the time. It didn’t work out, but it also didn’t work out with other men—many times. That’s why ‘gay’ never seemed right.”

Since he is now dating a man he said, “I guess if I wasn’t in a relationship with a man and I tried to tell people I was queer, it would appear to be a lie or a cop-out—à la college 10 years ago, when people believed in that notion of ‘bi now, gay later.’ But things are different now. I’m much more comfortable, and I’m in a relationship now. I’m not as worried about a future for myself.”

He does acknowledge that he works more because he is open about his sexuality.

“It might not be good for everyone, but I have gotten to play so many wonderful roles. If I at any point decide not to play gay characters anymore, I would work a lot less. To me, it’s way better to have jobs and get great parts,” he told Frontiers.

3. He’s Dating an Actor

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He’s in a relationship with actor Ryan Spahn.

He told Out magazine the details about how they met:

We first met at a karaoke bar in Burbank. I noticed him and thought he was interesting and cute, but Ryan says he doesn’t remember meeting me. Our mutual friend tried to set us up, but I cancelled because a good friend of mine died. He’d had some unlucky dating experiences, so my excuse—my friend died—was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The ball was in my court, I guess, and I never rescheduled. Part of that was me being a flake. Part of it was, I was on TV. I was never a “man-whore,” but I enjoyed dating; I was enjoying the attention of being on Ugly Betty. A year later, a friend mentioned Ryan, and I told her to set something up. She said Ryan wasn’t interested. That’s when I felt bad. The show moved to New York, and Ryan did, too. We supposedly kept crossing paths, but I didn’t realize it because by this time I didn’t remember what he looked like. It was sort of cruel. One night we were both supposed to meet a mutual friend, and she never showed up, so Ryan and I ended up getting a drink together. Of course, once he finally met me, I was completely irresistible!

4. He’s a Theater Guy

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Urie made his Broadway debut in 2012, playing Bud Frump in the 2012 Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He acted opposite Nick Jonas.

He also starred in Off-Broadway shows like The Temperamentals, The Cherry Orchard and Angels in America.

Earlier this year, he starred in a one-man show, Buyer & Cellar, which toured in multiple cities.

In an interview with the National Endowment for the Arts, he explained why theater matters. “We perform the show for the people that are in the room and then that performance is theirs forever and ever…. There’s no changing it or fixing it or highlighting it or toning it or anything like that. It just is what it was in the building,” he said.


5. He Went to Juilliard

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The actor attended the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City which boats alumni like Robin Williams and Jessica Chastain.

He told Slant Magazine, “At Juilliard I fell in love with the classics and when I graduated, I would have just been happy as a clam going from regional theater to regional theater playing the great parts in Shakespeare and Chekhov.”

In fact, he won the school’s John Houseman Prize as a senior. After graduation, he had to take temp jobs to pay the bills.

“When I got out of Juilliard, my money job was temping. And I had the lowest qualifications to be a temp, which put me in reception desks. Pretty much exclusively all I did was sit in a reception desk…. Sometimes I would be responsible for answering the phone but usually I was just the guy to that was friendly when you walked in. And that always having a friendly face and being nice to whoever walks in the door, that helps when you’re an actor for sure. You just smile and fake it and always make a good impression, I should say, a good first impression,” he said in an interview with the National Endowment for the Arts.



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