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Chris Diamantopoulos on Top

Chris Diamantopoulos on Top

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After nearly a decade of guest stints -- from Law & Order to Eli Stone -- Chris Diamantopoulos has landed the plum role of Debra Messing's best and gay friend, Rodney, in the new USA series The Starter Wife. For those of you expecting another Will-Grace pairing, you might be surprised to see what this hunk has up his sleeve.

Chris Diamantopoulos is suddenly on top. After nearly a decade of guest stints -- from Law & Order to Eli Stone -- the 33-year-old actor has landed the plum role of Debra Messing's best and gay friend, Rodney, in the new USA series The Starter Wife. But it's not just any supporting role. By the looks of it, the new show is giving his character plenty of screen time, a good portion of which revolves around a new relationship with a high-profile albeit closeted Hollywood hunk, played by James Black. In an Advocate.com exclusive, Diamantopoulos reveals his true passion -- wife Becki Newton (scheming Amanda on Ugly Betty) -- and why filming those steamy love scenes with another guy don't feel that steamy at all.

Advocate.com:Your character, Rodney, has a great to deal more going on, now that The Starter Wife has leapt from miniseries to series.Chris Diamantopoulos: The miniseries was a template. Rodney was Molly's best friend. He was there to support what Molly was going through, but I think this time around he's really a three-dimensional character. And right off the bat, he's gotten into a relationship that he should be wary of.

Felix. Yes. It's high-profile guy who is closeted. Despite the fact that all signs are pointing to stay away, he kind of goes for it ... and there are some interesting moments.

How challenging, or is it, to play a romantic role with another man when you're not romantically drawn toward other men? It's a good question, and I am surprised it hasn't come up more often. The truth of the matter is, love scenes in general are odd. It's few and far between when you are actually attracted to the people you are doing them with, at least for me, when I was asked to do heterosexual love scenes in the past. Frankly, the love scenes with James -- and he's a terrific actor -- we both go into it with the same perspective, which is "Let's both remain true to how it is written, and let's figure out exactly how to make it authentic." James is straight as well, and so we look at it in terms of, "How do we show exactly what needs to be shown and make sure we're also within our comfort zones so that we can figure out how to do it?" I wouldn't say that it's easy. I would say that it's work. The love scenes, to be honest, are exceptionally mathematic. Mechanical. We talk about it, figure it out, so that when it comes time to do it, there are no surprises. Does that make sense?

It does. Well, it's interesting because I played a gay character on Broadway and it was more of an implication of "gay" and there was no real authenticity. Getting into the emotional psyche of a character, for me, is a lot easier than understanding what compels them in a physical perspective. What I do is just look at what compels me in a physical perspective and then just sort of apply that to the character. But it's tricky. It's not the easiest thing in the world to do. You have to adapt your mentality and figure out a way to make it organic.

Sure, but what about those who say, whatever love scene actors do, that there must be some chance for a spark? Were you ever nervous about doing a love scene with a man -- nervous in the sense that it would trigger something in you that you never thought was there? The short answer is no. I've always known I was straight, which is why there has never been any question. I've always been super-comfortable with the gay community and my gay friends. It's always been a clear understanding of who I am, how I am. There was no trepidation doing this. The only concern, maybe, was that we show what needed to be shown in the scene. Like I said, I don't like ambiguity in filmmaking or television. I like the writers or creators to have a clear goal in mind. Fortunately, this show is headed by some of the best writers in the business. Rodney's character is sort of the moral compass of the show, and I love that they've chosen this gay character as the guy that sort of equalizes what is right and wrong here.

And things in television have evolved. We're living in different times. There are many more LGBT characters prominent now on television. It's about showing real people. One of the things this show does well, I think, is represent the gay community as a "regular" community. What's fascinating to me is why hasn't been that way forever [on TV]. I understand stereotypes. I understand comedy stereotypes. Ethic, sexual -- I get it. At the same time, the fact you mentioned that we're living in a time where we're seeing more [LGBT characters], isn't it amazing that not so long ago, we didn't?

Well, what is nice too is that you're working with an actress that helped change that forever. God. Do you have an hour to talk about Debra? I would say that if you are a real fan of Will & Grace, that you might be able to imagine how much fun it would be to work with her, but you really cannot imagine! I mean, this chick has to learn so much material; she's nearly in every scene and she's on set all day, and let's not forget, she's also a mom -- and a spectacular mom. I would expect her to need a minute to focus when she gets on set, but she's always more prepared than the guest players are. She knows her lines, everybody else's lines; she knows where she's going. And she's funny, has a spectacular sense of humor, and she can hang with the boys. For me, that was the hidden lottery ticket. She's a genius.

Overall, what are you finding most challenging these days? Trying to be in the same city as my wife. She's in New York, I am in L.A., and we're both shooting a series. But that's not the most challenging. I would say, keeping up with what's happening with what's going on outside of this business; what's going on around me. I sometimes get so focused on work that I forget there's a whole other world out there.

Have you been given any great advice lately? I was in Greece, visiting my mom's village, and there was this old guy, and he was exceptionally happy and he seemed fit, one of these guys you looked at and think, When I am 80-whatever or 90, can I be like him? I asked him what's the secret of life, and he looked at me and smiled. And then he made this gesture with his hand on his shoulder -- like he was brushing something off his shoulder -- and he said, "Let everything roll off your back."

What's the most interesting thing you've learned about yourself lately? I never thought I would have the patience I wanted to have. When I was younger, I was quick to respond, but I am learning that age helps. I'm 33 years old. I take a minute to think before I react now ... but what about you?

Me? Yeah? What have you found out about yourself?

I love that you are asking. Not many people do. Let's see, "What's the most interesting thing I've learned about myself lately?" Tell me.

It's a good question. I am glad I ask it to people. Yes, go on.

Well, I am learning that, when in doubt, it's probably good to get the hell out of my own way. That's a good one.

Yes. Getting out of your own way is a good thing. Sort of like ... not taking ourselves so seriously?

Exactly. And we do, don't we? Some of the big historical figures, those that have made the biggest effect on the world -- Mozart, Alexander the Great -- you know, they did their thing and they're gone. I used to be so tortured over a job or an interview or other things where I felt the concepts used to so important. And it's like, "Dude, really? Oh, my God, this is so myopic!" I have to say, and I'm not sure what you're status is, but ...

I'm gay, single at the moment, and now that I've admitted this singlehood to you, I think you should start looking for a man for me. Or a love scene ... ? Well, I tell you, man, the right partner ... listen, when I met my wife, Becki, I had sworn off women. A week before I met her, I literally called my father and said, "Dad, you're not getting any grandkids. Forget about it." I have to say, and I'm not trying to be cheesy, my life really began when I met her. She really is my best side.

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