BRUCE L HART: OUT IN THE OPEN

ON­SCREEN HE’S BEEN MAR­RIED TO GREG LOUGA­NIS AND TACK­LED BY IAN ROBERTS. OFF-SCREEN BRUCE L HART HAS PLENTY TO SAY ABOUT THE HOL­LY­WOOD CAST­ING COUCH. IN­TER­VIEW BY MARC AN­DREWS.

DNA Magazine - - NEWS -

On­screen he’s been mar­ried to Greg Louga­nis and tack­led by Ian Roberts. Off-screen he has plenty to say about the cast­ing couch.

When I was younger and more vul­ner­a­ble there were the preda­tor types out there and I re­ceived my share of it. It felt hor­ri­ble.

DNA: You’re an openly gay ac­tor work­ing in Hol­ly­wood to­day. Has this been a strug­gle? Bruce: That’s right – out, open and proud! Of course. Be­ing part of a mi­nor­ity group is al­ways a strug­gle. Fac­tor in be­ing a gay per­former on TV and movies and it am­pli­fies it. Yes, it’s been a strug­gle, but noth­ing you want comes eas­ily.

Was there ever a time when you thought about hid­ing the fact you are gay?

Hon­estly, never. When I was in col­lege ma­jor­ing in – what else? – the­atre I had a pro­fes­sor who cau­tioned me that I should not be “so out” be­cause I would never get work in main­stream projects. Some ad­vice you fol­low and some you ig­nore. Years later she sent me a note telling me how proud she was of my suc­cess hav­ing ap­par­ently for­got­ten that long-ago con­ver­sa­tion.

Do you think that be­ing openly gay has ever lost you a ma­jor role?

I’m sure there have been mo­ments when be­ing an out ac­tor has been a bar­rier to se­cur­ing cer­tain roles, es­pe­cially when au­di­tion­ing for main­stream roles, like non-gay char­ac­ters. But no­body is go­ing to tell you to your face that they won’t cast you in a het­ero­sex­ual role be­cause they know you’re gay. You just have to be per­sis­tent and au­di­tion well. Be­ing gay doesn’t al­ways get you gay roles ei­ther! With sex­ual as­sault in Hol­ly­wood a big me­dia story, has this ever af­fected you?

Yes. When I was younger and more vul­ner­a­ble there were the preda­tor types out there and I re­ceived my share of it. It felt hor­ri­ble. In fact, not long ago I had a prob­lem with an in­dus­try per­son who put me in an un­com­fort­able sit­u­a­tion in his of­fice – ba­si­cally a “sex for a role” type of prom­ise. I said, “No, thanks!” and left and didn’t get the part! What did Neely O’Hara say in Val­ley Of The Dolls? “At least I have my dig­nity.” I will take my dig­nity over a role for sex­ual fa­vors any day.

Have things changed now in the world, post Kevin Spacey?

Things will change, but slowly. It’s a pos­i­tive sign that peo­ple are speak­ing up. Both women and men are tar­gets. Corey Feld­man is fi­nally be­ing taken se­ri­ously about his sto­ries of ha­rass­ment when he was younger and, of course, this is not just re­stricted to show busi­ness. It can hap­pen any­where.

As a young ac­tor, how did you pro­tect your­self from as­sault and be­ing groomed?

I started pur­su­ing act­ing in my early twen­ties and was very naïve, but my up­bring­ing helped me. I had par­ents who, from an early age, taught me to be both self-suf­fi­cient and aware of my sur­round­ings. That cau­tion­ary tale of “Don’t take rides from strangers!” has served me well!

How did you and Ian Roberts come to work to­gether?

The film Salt­wa­ter brought us to­gether. I joked the first day on the set that I hoped he wasn’t go­ing to tackle me and toss me into the air. His char­ac­ter did that in Su­per­man Re­turns. I’ll ad­mit I was a lit­tle in­tim­i­dated when I first met him but we re­ally clicked once we started to get to know each other. You’ve ven­tured into web se­ries, too, with Old Dogs And New Tricks.

The fu­ture is here! When web shows like Old Dogs first ap­peared they were mainly hosted on sites like YouTube. Old Dogs And New Tricks was ground

break­ing be­cause it em­braced a medium that was just start­ing and it gave a voice to older LGBTIQ char­ac­ters. With the birth of stream­ing plat­forms like Hulu and Net­flix sud­denly we are see­ing all kinds of orig­i­nal new se­ries like The Hand­maid’s Tale on Hulu and Dear White Peo­ple on Net­flix. Both these se­ries fea­ture great gay roles.

Tell us about your new movie Open?

It’s about a gay cou­ple, me and Peter Szeliga, cel­e­brat­ing their ten-year an­niver­sary and start­ing to feel sti­fled. Since their close friends are in an open re­la­tion­ship they de­cide to try it for them­selves. They draft a set of rules for their new open re­la­tion­ship and pro­ceed to hur­tle into their new sit­u­a­tion with calami­tous, hu­mor­ous and hum­bling re­sults. What I en­joy about the film is it doesn’t make judg­ments, it sim­ply tells the story. My char­ac­ter, Kyle goes on a se­ries of speed dates and (porn ac­tor) Ron Jeremy makes a cameo as one of my bad dates.

What roles are you work­ing on?

I re­cently au­di­tioned for a cool Zac Efron project. I just ap­peared in a TV film, Un­fallen play­ing a de­vout Chris­tian adop­tion coun­sel­lor. I’m in talks with pro­duc­ers to ap­pear in a film se­quel to a pop­u­lar LGBTIQ film but can’t share any de­tails. Stay tuned! Are we ever likely to see you in a ma­jor Hol­ly­wood block­buster?

My goal has never been the fame of a ma­jor block­buster, but about be­ing a work­ing ac­tor and per­fect­ing my craft. If a role in a block­buster comes my way I will sim­ply view it as an­other ex­cit­ing role to tackle.

Are Hol­ly­wood movies ready for an openly gay ac­tion hero?

Long over­due, and I watch the progress in Hol­ly­wood avidly. So many strides have been made in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try to in­clude LGBTIQ char­ac­ters. While not re­ally a su­per­hero, I was so ex­cited to see Wil­son Cruz got a ma­jor openly gay role on the new Star Trek se­ries. As far as gay peo­ple and gay roles go, the ge­nie is out of the bot­tle. Some peo­ple may not like see­ing LGBTIQ char­ac­ters but they are ad­just­ing. A gay ac­tion hero? I say yes and prob­a­bly in my life­time.

What do you like to do when you’re not work­ing?

I love to read. I read three to five books a week – fic­tion, bi­ogra­phies and po­lit­i­cal books. I also write screen­plays. My brother Paul, who is a di­rec­tor and edi­tor in the busi­ness, and I team up to write TV and fea­ture film scripts. We cur­rently have one in devel­op­ment, hope­fully for Life­time, and a new LGBTIQ script we are go­ing to ei­ther shop around or pro­duce our­selves.

Are you ro­man­ti­cally at­tached?

I am see­ing some­one spe­cial. He’s not in the busi­ness so I won’t em­bar­rass him, but he is very sup­port­ive and un­der­stands the ups and downs of show busi­ness.

What’s your work­out regime?

My ge­net­ics run to be­ing over­weight so I work­out ev­ery sin­gle day! Car­dio ev­ery­day to keep my me­tab­o­lism up and then a var­ied rou­tine with free weights. In show­biz it’s im­por­tant to be in shape. I drink a lot of wa­ter and have been fol­low­ing the pa­leo diet for sev­eral years.

What would be your ad­vice to young guys think­ing about get­ting into show­biz?

Make sure it’s re­ally what you want to do. Make sure you know your craft. Be aware that while it’s great to have a dream, the re­al­ity is that show busi­ness is hard work. I’ve worked with younger ac­tors who have been bril­liant. I’ve also worked with young ac­tors who have been cast pri­mar­ily for their youth and they haven’t done their home­work. The un­pre­pared face a rude awak­en­ing down the road. Who do you see as your LGBTIQ role mod­els or con­tem­po­raries?

Both Greg Louga­nis and Wil­son Cruz top my list. Greg sac­ri­ficed numer­ous en­dorse­ment deals when he came out back in the ’80s. He didn’t even get onto a Wheaties Box un­til last year and look how many gold medals he won! Wil­son Cruz is just amaz­ing. Laverne Cox, for the trans move­ment, is some­one I so ad­mire and, of course, Ellen DeGeneres is a pi­o­neer. Matt Bomer is also on my list. It’s im­por­tant we have role mod­els for our LGBTIQ youth. It gives hope and in­spi­ra­tion. When I was a kid there wasn’t any­one on TV or in the movies I could point to and say, “He rep­re­sents me!”

What’s one thing that might sur­prise peo­ple about you?

I love singing and I’m pretty good at it if I do say so my­self. I got my start singing in a gay bar do­ing a cabaret show when I was 20, then moved on to those tour­ing com­pa­nies that hire young peo­ple to do a dif­fer­ent show ev­ery night. I’m hop­ing to do more mu­si­cal projects down the road.

THE WED­DING KISS WITH GREG LOUGA­NIS IN OLD DOGS AND NEW TRICKS.

BRUCE IN A PAS­SION­ATE SCENE WITH SCREEN-HUS­BAND PETER SZELIGA IN

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