Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Happiest Season's Victor Garber on Always Being Out in Hollywood 

Veteran actor Victor Garber talks about being out in Hollywood

Filming Happiest Season was an altogether joyful experience for Victor Garber.

“It was more fun than I’ve had in a long time,” says the veteran actor, who describes the atmosphere on set as a “love fest.”

For one thing, it reunited him with Clea DuVall, a friend since they appeared together in the 2012 Best Picture Oscar-winner Argo. “We had such a wonderful time on that movie.… We just bonded,” he says. “I found her to be funny and so smart.” DuVall emailed him and asked if he’d like to be part of Happiest Season, her second feature as a writer-director, and it was a no-brainer for him to sign on. “It just felt so natural to make this movie,” he says.

Garber’s Happiest Season character, Ted, is the father of Harper (Mackenzie Davis), who’s home for the holidays with her girlfriend, Abby (Kristen Stewart). Abby plans to propose to Harper during the family celebration, but the problem is, Harper’s not out to her conservative parents (Mary Steenburgen plays mom Tipper). And Ted’s running for mayor. “Keeping up appearances is everything to this family,” Garber says.

As Happiest Season is a holiday rom-com, it’s not too much of a spoiler to say things are resolved happily. “What the movie is mostly about is love and acceptance,” Garber says. “We all have to find ways to connect with each other.”

The Canadian-born actor has, with occasional exceptions, known acceptance as a gay man in Hollywood. Since his film debut as Jesus in 1973’s Godspell, he’s appeared in scads of TV shows, such as Alias, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and the 2019 version of Tales of the City, and movies including Titanic, Legally Blonde, and Milk, in which he portrayed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, who was assassinated alongside Harvey Milk.

His official public coming-out happened “inadvertently,” as he’s described it, in a 2013 interview with blogger Greg Hernandez, who’d seen Rainer Andreesen listed as Garber’s partner on Wikipedia. Hernandez asked him if that was accurate, and Garber said that although Wikipedia was not reliable on all things, yes, that was true. Garber had also described Andreesen as his companion in an interview with a Canadian outlet the year before.

But Garber says now, “I had never felt that I was not out. I wasn’t hiding or feeling that I shouldn’t be gay.” Most of his show business associates knew he was gay, even though early on, a “fairly reputable agent” advised him that he couldn’t have a significant acting career as an out gay man. “I just made the decision that I didn’t really care,” Garber says. He and Andreesen, an artist, married in 2015 in Canada after having been together for 16 years.

“My career has been floating along pretty smoothly,” Garber observes, although he notes that “obviously, things have changed” for LGBTQ+ people in film and television since he started out. “I’m obviously very happy with the way things are progressing,” he says, to the point that there’s now a queer holiday rom-com backed by a major studio.

Garber has remained busy since wrapping Happiest Season. He’s just finished shooting 10 episodes of Family Law, a drama series about, yes, a family of lawyers who work together, with Garber as the patriarch. The Vancouver-set series will air in Canada in 2021, and he’s hopeful it will be picked up for another season.

In the meantime, he’s glad to spread the word about Happiest Season. “I love this movie,” he says.

 

DuVall, Stewart, and Davis are The Advocate’s cover stars for the November/December issue. This article is a companion piece to the cover story. 

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