Better Off Out
BY Brandon Voss
April 20 2009 11:00 PM ET
His costar Portia de
Rossi might be a higher-profile homosexual, but Jonathan Slavin
has been working steadily as an out actor since the early '90s.
Best known as a regular on
Andy Richter Controls the Universe
and for his recurring roles in
Caroline in the City
My Name Is Earl
, Slavin currently plays a geeky research scientist named Phil
Better Off Ted
, an absurdist sitcom about a morally questionable corporation
which premiered March 18 on ABC. Revisiting his queer roles in
other series such as
and the short-lived
, the 39-year-old animal rights activist tells Advocate.com how
his sexuality has been a hard pill for Hollywood's schlubby
gays to swallow.
Advocate.com:The relationship between your character Phil and fellow
research scientist Lem is really the heart of
Better Off Ted
. Tell me about that on-screen bromance.Jonathan Slavin:
We are an incredibly enmeshed couple. We fight, we bicker, and
we've probably been together way too long, but neither one of
us is going anywhere, because one of us would cease to exist
without the other one. Malcolm Barrett, who plays Lem, is so
funny and such a genius. Our favorite thing is when they just
let "Lem and Phil" be "Lem and Phil."
In the third episode you even shared the same Hazmat
After we shot the pilot, we came back a few months later to do
the table read for the next episode, and that day they started
fitting us for that suit. It was like, "OK, you guys are
going to get to know each other really quickly. Start
You also have great chemistry with Portia de Rossi, who
plays your boss. As an out actor, what's it like to work with
gay royalty? Are there strict rules of etiquette like when you
meet the queen?
Portia's so not like that. She's a little shy but so sweet that
you just feel at ease with her. Portia's my girl, and I love
her to death. When I found out that she would be on the show,
it was like, "Are you kidding? Two gay vegans on one show?
And both of us playing straight? How the hell did that happen?
It must've slipped right under the radar." It's bananas
because I've spent half my career being told people don't want
to hire me because I'm gay. But it never occurs to [
Better Off Ted
creator, executive producer, writer, and director] Victor
Fresco to think that I can't play a character who has a wife,
or that Portia can't play a character who has sex with a guy.
His mind just doesn't go there, but he's a weird anomaly in
this town. People are usually very up-front about not hiring me
because of my sexuality.
Have you been invited to Portia and Ellen's house?
Ellen's been amazingly supportive of the show, so we all got
together and watched the premiere there. They have a beautiful
home that's first and foremost a home; it feels very
comfortable. There was lots of vegan pizzas, and vegan this,
vegan that. I never go to a dinner party where I can eat
everything on the table, so I was thrilled.
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