The ac­tor will play two gay char­ac­ters on screen this year

IN Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Peter Knegt

The ac­tor will play two gay char­ac­ters on screen this year

In a cer­tain sense, Zachary Quinto is some­thing of a pi­o­neer. De­spite re­mark­able progress for LGBT peo­ple in the main­stream me­dia, so many Hol­ly­wood ac­tors cling to the in­side of the closet even while peo­ple like Quinto prove that’s not es­pe­cially nec­es­sary any­more. In fact, Quinto be­longs to a still puz­zlingly small group of young male Amer­i­can ac­tors—Matt Bomer, Jonathan Groff, Jim Par­sons and Neil Pa­trick Har­ris be­ing the most ob­vi­ous other ex­am­ples—who have proven it can even be good for some­one’s ca­reer to come out.

In 2011, Quinto’s star was very much on the rise thanks to a trio of big roles in the hit TV se­ries He­roes, the sum­mer block­buster Star Trek and the ac­claimed in­die film Mar­gin Call. There had been ru­mours swirling that he was dat­ing the afore­men­tioned Jonathan Groff, but in­stead of dodg­ing them like many of his fel­low ac­tors past and present, Quinto came out in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the sui­cide of gay teenager Jamey Rode­meyer. He told New York mag­a­zine at the time: “Liv­ing a gay life with­out pub­licly ac­knowl­edg­ing it is sim­ply not enough to make any sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the im­mense work that lies ahead on the road to com­plete equal­ity.”

Call­ing Quinto’s procla­ma­tion any­thing other than sim­ply do­ing the right thing sim­ply feeds the sug­ges­tion that there’s any­thing pro­fes­sion­ally prob­lem­atic about be­ing an out ac­tor th­ese days. What’s hap­pened in the half-decade since Quinto made that ac­knowl­edge­ment? More hit TV se­ries ( Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story, which nabbed him an Emmy nom­i­na­tion), more sum­mer block­busters ( Star Trek Into Dark­ness) and more ac­claimed indies (he’s been a reg­u­lar at Sun­dance the past few years). The old fear that when ac­tors come out they be­come forced to only play gay roles hasn’t ex­actly proven to be the case for Quinto. In fact, it’s not un­til this year that we’ll see his first two per­for­mances as gay char­ac­ters hit the screen – and they are both real peo­ple.

In I Am Michael— which played the film fes­ti­val cir­cuit last year and hits the­atres this win­ter—Quinto plays Ben­nett, a char­ac­ter based on the real-life ex-boyfriend of Michael Glatze. Glatze be­came in­fa­mous when a New York Times pro­file ex­posed that the once-prom­i­nent gay rights ac­tivist had be­come a born-again Chris­tian who no longer be­lieved in the cause. It’s a provoca­tive and fas­ci­nat­ing story, and one that Quinto and both his co-star James Franco and di­rec­tor Justin Kelly (mak­ing his fea­ture film de­but) work to­gether to bring to the screen with a lot of au­then­tic­ity and very lit­tle judg­ment. It’s ul­ti­mately a story about search­ing for one­self in an in­creas­ingly com­pli­cated world, and rep­re­sents a unique ex­am­ple of a re­cent mini-surge in qual­ity LGBT-themed indies (see also—please— Tan­ger­ine, Grandma, Nasty Baby and Carol). It also fea­ture one of Quinto’s best per­for­mances as he hu­man­izes the dev­as­tat­ing out­come of what hap­pens when half of a gay cou­ple de­cides to de­nounce be­ing gay.

I Am Michael will hit the­atres just a few months be­fore Quinto’s se­cond straight (no pun in­tended) role as a real-life gay man on film. Oliver Stone’s Snow­den is a de­pic­tion of the events sur­round­ing com­puter whiz Ed­ward Snow­den (played by Joseph Gor­don-Le­vitt in the film) when he leaked clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion from the NSA. Quinto will play lawyer, au­thor and jour­nal­ist Glenn Green­wald, who be­came widely known af­ter he worked with Snow­den to help get out the leaks, and just so hap­pens to be gay. No one has seen the film yet (it comes out in May), but given its con­tent it seems cer­tain to be a very dif­fer­ent film than I Am Michael— though given Quinto’s re­sumé over the past few years we’d ex­pect noth­ing less.

Above and right: Scenes from Justin Kelly’s I Am Michael. Based on Benoit Denizet-Lewis’s New York Times mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle “My

Ex-Gay Friend,” the film stars James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts and Char­lie Carver.

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