Chris New: Weekend Update
BY Brandon Voss
October 14 2011 6:00 AM ET
There’s also a discussion in the film about the shared gay experience of coming out to one’s family. What was your coming out like?
My coming out was sort of like Glen’s. I just said to my parents, “Look, you have to deal with it. If you can’t deal with it, it’s your problem, not mine.”
How did that go over?
Well, I never really asked after that. I just carried on with my life. I was born with a certain amount of stubbornness, which is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse. In the area of coming out, I was just stubborn.
As an actor, when did you decide to be out professionally?
There was an interesting moment. It was when I did my first play out of drama school [Royal Academy of Dramatic Art]. I did a play called Bent by Martin Sherman in the West End [in 2006]. It was a massive role to get right out of drama school, and it was a really lucky break. I did the play with Alan Cumming. I had an agent at the time who, when it came to talking to press interviews, told me not to come out. She said, “Just don’t mention the gay thing.” I spoke to Alan about it, and he took me aside and said, “Look, if you want to be really unhappy and feel like you’re hiding something forever, then by all means don’t mention the gay thing. But if you want to live a happy life, just be honest about it, even if you have to deal with some consequences.” I agreed with him, so I fired that agent and I came out.
Have you felt any consequences?
If it has affected anything, then I don’t really know about it. If people are having a conversation about it in a room when they’re talking about casting — “Oh, no, we can’t have Chris New because he’s gay” — then I never hear about it, so it doesn’t really bother me. I’ve had a very nice career so far. If I ever get any backlash for being an out gay actor, they can eat my ass. [Laughs] I’d rather live in the world I live in than live with a lie.
Do you feel like an actor’s sexuality is as much of an issue in the U.K. as it is in Hollywood? We hear Rupert Everett chime in on the subject from time to time, but —
I think Rupert Everett might just have too much time on his hands. There might be a lot of other reasons why Rupert Everett’s not happy with his career, but if I were him I’d be very happy — he’s done some great stuff. But yeah, I do think that sexuality is an issue in the British film and theater industry. Very often the scripts that come through the door for me are for gay roles, but it’s up to me whether or not I take them. If the part says, “20s, camp, best friend to a girl,” I’ll probably not do it.