Michael Urie has not been a regular presence on television since Ugly Betty left the air two years ago.
But the talented actor has been keeping busy in the theater and film.
He starred off Broadway in The Tempermentals and made his Broadway debut this year in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
The openly gay star also co-starred in the indie film Petunia and executive produced and appeared in the documentary Thank You for Judging, both of which screened last month at LA’s Outfest Film Festival.
But series television has once again beckoned and Urie is set to star in the new CBS sitcom Partners. The comedy, from is from Will & Grace creators Max Mutchick and David Kohan, centers on lifelong friends and business partners — one straight and one gay.
Urie plays the gay character which is based on Mutchick.
‘When we wrote the pilot, Michael really was the one, I mean, that we knew we wanted to play the part,’ Mutchick said this week.
David Krumholz plays the straight character based on Kohan. Also in the cast is Brandon Routh as the seemingly naive boyfriend of Urie’s character.
Urie chatted with Gay Star News for a few minutes after the cast appeared at the TV Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills.
Q. You’ve been doing a lot of work on the stage in New York since the end of Ugly Betty. What made you decide to come back to television?
A. “I wasn’t actively looking to get back on TV as much as I was actively looking to get on stage. I didn’t want to just jump into anything and also, there’s not a lot for me. There’s not a part for me on every show so I wasn’t eager to sort of wedge a square into a round hole or anything like that. When I read this one I thought, ‘Okay, this is the best possible part for me. There’s not going to be a etter part for me and I’ll do whatever I have to to get it.’
Q. How is it working with the very handsome Brandon Routh. Can you keep your concentration?
A. Luckily, he’s not my type. It’s a lot of acting to see beauty in that (laughs). No, no. Actually I love working with him because he’s just as sweet as he seems and he’s so game to have fun and to just act silly and I love somebody like that.’
Q. How is your character on Partner different from Marc St. Clair on Ugly Betty?
A. Mark was so much about getting ahead, blindly and viciously ambitious. Louis is far more secure. I mean, he definitely has his neurosis but he is far more secure in where he is and he just wants to live life happily whereas Mark would do anything to get what he needed, to get what he wants. He just was so obsessed with Wilhelmina (Vanessa Williams) and Louis is far more obsessed with himself.
Q. Is a self-obsessed character like that fun to play?
A. Oh yeah. Any kind of extreme is fun – especially when you’re doing comedy. It opens up the boundaries so much for what you can do. I don’t like being confined. Since Ugly Betty I’ve gotten to play some subtle characters and that’s really fun and really interesting but I much prefer to go for the back of the house.’
Q. Like you role in (the independent film) Petunia which I saw you in at LA’s Outfest Film Festival.
A. Yeah, that was a more subtle role and that was awesome. I was so excited to get to do a subtle more serious guy who doesn’t bounce off the walls. But it’s really nice to be back doing [comedy].’
Q. Did you ever think that there would be this many gay roles for an openly gay actor?
A. ‘I’m so glad there is because it’s awesome to play all these different kinds of gay roles. Between and Louis, the guy in Petunia, I did Angels in America and The Tempermentals (on Broadway), I’ve gotten to do all these gay guys who are totally different – by do I mean play. (laughs). And I never had to say, ‘No more gay characters.’ Of course there were people over the years who told me, ‘Don’t play any more gay characters’ but then another awesome role would come up and I can’t not take a great role. I would much rather play a great gay role than a mediocre straight role.]’