Dan Bucatinsky feels pride playing the first out gay character in the 24 franchise, but the Emmy winner insists sexuality isn't the most interesting thing about Andy Shalowitz.
24: Legacy revealed Andy's sexuality in the most recent episode when the Counter Terrorist Unit analyst came face-to-face with his ex--closeted CTU agent Thomas Locke (Bailey Chase). Tom, it turns out, broke things off with Andy because he feared being outed at work would hurt his chances of receiving a promotion.
Bucatinsky, himself a married gay father and longtime activist, knows the importance of the visibility of the role in the reboot of the 24 series that starred Kiefer Sutherland for nine seasons. But, he says, the show doesn't make a big deal out of it.
"It's handled as so matter-of-fact, that I kind of feel matter-of-fact about it," Bucatinsky told OUT. "That's probably a luxury that people who came 25 years before us couldn't have imagined."
Bucatinsky, who won an Emmy Award for playing gay journalist James Novak in Scandal, is also a book author, TV writer, producer and director. He talked more with OUT about his new role and how coming out changed his career.
OUT: How did the producers discuss Andy's sexuality with you?
Dan Bucatinsky: They didn't pitch me a character who was gay or not gay. The facts of who Andy is, and what he does, and what he does on the show, and what role he plays in the show, aren't really relevant--which is kind of a great thing.
Back in the day, that character was "the gay one." You would define a character based on the fact that he is the gay roommate, or the gay neighbor, or the gay brother. The gayness was the character. And now the character is the character, and they are either Jewish or not. They're male or female, they're young or they're old, they're gay or they're straight. And those are all just parts of the flavors of the character.
The idea that one of these experts in counter terrorism is a guy who also happens to be gay is a great thing.
How does it feel to be the first out gay character on 24?
On the one hand, it's not the relevant to the character. On the other, he's the first gay character on the 24 franchise. They're certainly proud of the fact they have a gay series regular character. But it's not even remotely the most important thing about this character. Andy is a really smart, hard-working, loyal to a fault, computer analyst and counter- terrorism expert at CTU. For lack of a better comparison, I'm sort of holding the place that Chloe held back in the [original] series.
This genre is kind of a departure for you, although you were murdered in Scandal, also set in Washington, D.C.
Yeah, there are similarities and differences. I either keep getting drawn by Washington shows, or shows where in I could potentially be murdered at any moment. Those shows are either calling to me, or trying to hunt me down.
I was always a really big fan of 24. When it first came out, I really admired the device. I admired the ingenuity. I admired the sort of gasp-worthy storytelling, and the idea that an hour took place in real time. And the season took place in a day. I really thought it was an innovative idea. ... I'm really drawn to that kind of fast-paced, high-stakes storytelling. This 24 certainly delivers on all of that.
I was really drawn to playing someone who was a little bit neurotic and anxious, but a brilliant analyst. And I think a little bit of the humor in this version of 24 comes from Andy, which always makes me happy.
You have done everything--acting, producing, writing, directing. Do you have a favorite?
To be honest with you, I became a producer and a writer in service of the part of me that wanted to be an actor. So, acting is sort of where my heart and soul lie. When I first moved to LA, I really was encouraged to just pick one thing and stick with it. I understand why. The business finds it easier to put you into a category and understand what you want to do, and how they should see you. But it really is upon each of us, as individuals and as artists, to define ourselves only by our own drives, our own creative points of view. No one should stop us. No one should stop any writer or actor or director from trying something different.
You talked about being put in a category. How has coming out, being a gay father, being visible in LGBTQ advocacy the way you are, changed anything in your career?
I don't think I was living up to my potential as an actor until I was able to be as honest about who I am to myself. And part of being who I am, and part of being honest about who I am to myself, involved the process of being honest about who I am to the world. That may not be true of everybody; I can only speak for myself."
Be sure to follow Out on your favorite social platform
DON'T MISS THE OUT100 SPECIAL 3 DAY MARATHON STARTING NOVEMBER 24TH!
Journey through the year’s influential Out100 – the most iconic and long-standing celebration of LGBTQ+ icons and allies – in a 1-hour television special spotlighting the LGBTQ+ people shaping the world today.