Emmy-nominated for his portrayal of the Earl of Essex in the miniseries Elizabeth I, Hugh Dancy is more widely known as the crown prince of romantic comedies such as Ella Enchanted, The Jane Austen Book Club, and Confessions of a Shopaholic. But whether he's playing a man with Asperger's syndrome in the recent film Adam or just reigning over red carpets with fiancée Claire Danes, Dancy always dazzles like a royal jewel. Revisiting his sexually ambiguous parts in the 2007 dramas Evening and Savage Grace, the 34-year-old Brit confesses the perks and perils of being so darn pretty.
The Advocate: Did you know that gays fancied the Dancy?
Hugh Dancy: I think that's been made clear enough times. [Laughs] I always appreciate it when people are appreciative, but I certainly don't live in constant need of people telling me how great I am. Other people make that their concern, but I don't.
Then I'll go easy on the flattery. As a man from the U.K., where same-sex civil partnership is legal, and as a man who's getting married this fall, what's your take on the marriage equality debate in the United States?
You're getting married soon?
No, you are.
Oh, right. I see. People can argue about whether or not they want to do it themselves, but the option ought to be there for everybody — and as far as I'm concerned, the sooner the better. It's been going on for a while in the U.K. and society hasn't crumbled.
Jessica Biel recently spoke about how her beauty has posed problems for her in the industry. Have you experienced a downside to being aesthetically pleasing?
Maybe that was something for me to overcome early on in my career — and for all I know it's still there in some intangible way — but I sense it much less now. I can't really complain about the roles that I've been able to play. [Capt. Dennis Stanhope in the World War I drama] Journey's End on Broadway a couple years ago was an incredibly rich and complex role, and the same is true of Adam.
But you're most commonly associated with light romantic comedies. Do you have any aspirations of tackling action-adventure or superhero roles?
Those movies do reach a huge audience, which is always important, and there's probably a franchise there, so you'll be kept in milk and cookies for years to come. And as a side effect, you'll probably end up in incredibly good shape. But it's not the be-all and end-all for me. People have said that maybe I should go for more edgy roles, but you've got to be very careful or you're just taking the next job that comes along where you're carrying a gun. I have no problem with romantic comedies; I just have a problem with bad movies in general. If I can make a good movie in almost any genre, I will. I try not to be snobbish about that.
Must I bring up Basic Instinct 2?
[Laughs] I basically signed up for that because it was directed by Michael Caton-Jones, who had just directed me in a movie called Beyond the Gates, which was about genocide in Rwanda. So Basic Instinct 2 could not have been more of a different experience. Did I know it was likely to be quite camp? Yes. I think anybody with half a brain could've figured that one out.