Dan Byrd: A for Pay

The Cougar Town star opens up about playing a bullied gay high school student in the hit teen comedy Easy A.



DAN BYRD 4 X390 | ADVOCATE.COMHave you gotten any feedback from gay teens about your performance?
I don’t really have much of a venue to get feedback, because I’m not on the Twitter. I get feedback from friends and other people in my life, but I don’t really get a great idea of how audiences are responding to what I do. So no, I haven’t directly heard from the gay audience, but what I’ve heard from outside sources has been positive.

When Olive pretends to sleep with Brandon, it sort of sends the message that teens should hide the fact that they’re gay until after they graduate high school. That seems rather bleak, so I appreciated the film’s last-minute twist.
Yeah, I agree that the message there could get a little twisted, but given how they wrap it up at the end, hopefully it shows that Brandon gets his happy ending on his terms, which is pretty cool.

I also figured that Brandon would stay neutered like most supporting gay characters in movies, but — spoiler alert! — his happy ending actually involves running away from home with “some big hulking black guy.”
[Laughs] Yeah. That was actually the first scene that I shot in the movie, so it was a nice little welcome to Easy A.

Did the actor who played him put you at ease?
No, not at all. [Laughs] If anything, hopefully I put him at ease, because he was super nervous.

You also play the title role in the indie comedy Norman, which is currently playing the film festival circuit.
Yeah, it’s about this kid who perpetuates this whole lie that he’s got cancer, when in actuality it’s his father who’s dying of cancer. Norman’s best friend in the movie, James, happens to be gay, but it’s not really a big part of the story line. He does try to get Norman to join the drama club.

I love spending time with the tight-knit group of characters of Cougar Town, but how hard would it be for a gay person to break into that posse?
It’s got to be coming. I’m hoping they’re just saving that up for a character who’s going to stick around for a while and be an honorary member of the cul-de-sac group like Tom, who’s popping up more and more often. We need some more color, and a gay character would be a good way to get it. I obviously have no say as far as where the show’s going creatively, but I have to believe that we’ll meet a strong, funny gay character soon. Oh, here’s a little scoop: This hasn’t been introduced yet, but — I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this.

Tags: television