Shadowhunters Star Harry Shum Jr. on Playing a Bisexual Demon Slayer

Harry Shum Jr.

“Yup, he’s a bisexual warlock,” says Harry Shum Jr. of his 400-year-old character on the Freefrom fantasy series Shadowhunters. “When you live that long, you have some stories.” 

Ever since Anne Rice poured a sarcophagus’s worth of same-sex longing into her vampire novels, fans of the genre have jonesed for homoerotic action among creatures of the night. Shadowhunters has plenty of it. Shum plays Magnus, the immortal leader of a supernatural coven in modern-day New York City who pursues both demons and his mortal boyfriend, Alec (Matthew Daddario). Magnus’s darkness was a big draw for the Glee vet, who was also eager to dive into a subculture—not bloodsuckers, but bi guys. He links it to his own heritage. “Bisexuality isn’t really talked about in the mainstream,” he says. “It’s like me being an Asian Latino American—there aren’t many of us.”

The 35-year-old actor’s main goal is to portray a queer relationship in a way that’s never been seen on TV. Of course, the idea that Magnus’s love will literally never die helps, but for him it’s more than that. “I look at it the same way as Asian stereotypes on TV,” Shum says. “Why would I want to play that? I want to find uniqueness and capture it every time Magnus and Alec have intimate scenes.” Here’s hoping for many of those scenes when the show returns in June.

Photography: Greg Vaughan
Styling: Michael Cook
Photographed at the NoMo Soho Hotel, New York
Groomer: Scott McMahan at Kate Ryan Inc
Shirt: Perry Ellis


 

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