Michael Urie and Randy Harrison Play SuchGood House in New Film

Thursday, April 9th 2015

By: Frank J. Avella
Source: edgemedianetwork.com
Edited by: Marcy

In Stewart Wade's nutty new comedy, "Such Good People," Michael Urie and Randy Harrison play a loving gay couple whose ethics are challenged when they find close to a million dollars hidden away in a room where they happen to be housesitting. The zany screenplay (by David Michael Barrett) follows the duo's journey as they attempt to fight greed and court altruism, while coveting their dream house.

The wacky farce brings to mind many of the madcap comedies of the '30s & '40s as well as "What's Up Doc?," one of Urie's favorite movies and "the first 'throwback' to those screwball comedies."

"I love the style and atmosphere Steward and David created for this film," Urie says. Harrison found it refreshing, but "my references were more '80s comedies." "Playing normal people with a flair for the dramatic is my favorite kind of acting," Urie shares about his approach to the material. "I think the best kind of humor comes from truth, and any extreme situations (of which there are many in SGP) are only made funnier by making it naturalistic."

Enjoy working together?

Both Urie and Harrison, who had tremendous success playing gay characters on the popular TV shows, "Ugly Betty" and "Queer as Folk respectively," enjoyed working together immensely.

Harrison: I knew Michael and liked him as a person and admired him as an actor...I felt especially fortunate to work opposite such a pro on a comedy like this because, though I've done a fair amount of stage comedy and improv, the bulk of my camera experience is still from QAF, where my character didn't have too much comedic material."

Urie: I'd long been an admirer of his (Randy's) work, and EASILY fell in love with him on screen. I like blondes, so..."

The four-week shoot proved "remarkably relaxed" according to Harrison. Urie concurs, "We shot in Los Angeles, in lovely Silverlake, so it was pretty great. My partner, Ryan came with me (and appears in the film). Comedies are always fun to shoot, and we had a fabulous crew and delightful cast, so it was a very fun place to go every day."

Questionable decisions

In the film our protagonists, Richard (Urie) and Alex (Harrison), make more than a few questionable, selfish decisions. Both have different moments of conscience, though Richard seems to give himself a little more wiggle room defining right and wrong. (Urie: "Well, he's SUCH A GOOD PERSON...") It's refreshing to see multi-faceted LGBT characters onscreen that aren't simply placed into a "role model" or "likeable" box but are allowed shadings.
Harrison: "Thinking about likability is a trap for an actor. I'm interested in characters that the audience feels conflicted about...I'm also interested in hypocrisy because it's something you see everyday...In thinking specifically about LGBT characters, I'm interested in portraying and seeing more characters with deeper variety along the spectrum of gender presentation and personal expression. I find a lot of the time when I audition for gay roles, if... the creatives wants the audience to take (them) seriously or see (them) as romantic or powerful, I'm very clearly coached to act completely straight.

"More queer presenting characters are usually still kind of jokes or stereotypes. I don't believe that a gay man or a gay character needs to present his masculinity in a traditional, heteronormative way in order to be taken seriously...I still don't see to a huge extent the queer community that I know and love represented accurately on TV or in film. Not yet. That's what I'm interested in presenting as an actor, given the chance."

Playing diverse characters

Urie's experience has been a bit different: "I'm lucky to have had such diverse LGBT characters come my way. I think having a 'big break' like 'Ugly Betty' really set the scene for me to find a home playing LGBT characters, and having a foot firmly set on stage was an opportunity to play different genres, not just the camp of UB.

Even in the 9 years since we shot the pilot, society (and show biz) has changed. Where one might have been typecast as 'gay' in 2006, I've enjoyed success playing wildly different characters who aren't defined (or at least not "typed") by sexuality. In fact, I would argue that the closest character to Marc on 'Ugly Betty' was Bud Frump in 'How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying' on Broadway, which was NOT a gay character."

The lunatic film takes a touching turn in the climactic moments. I won't give it away, suffice to say it's quite moving and, as many good comedies do, allows poignancy into the narrative. Urie shares: "We were all encouraged to play the truth and pathos in spite of the madcap nature of the entire film up to that point. I think it works quite nicely, and is a welcome surprise."

At the moment, both Urie and Harrison are quite busy with other projects.
Urie is currently "loving London" performing in "Buyer and Cellar" there. "It's truly the gift that keeps on giving, and as suspected, London audiences are having a great time discovering Barbra's basement mall with me."

Upon his return, he goes right into rehearsals for Douglas Carter Beane's new play, "Show for Days," starring his "Ugly Betty" TV-mom, Patti LuPone. "I've adored Patti since I can remember, and insisted she be my friend after she played my mom on UB," Urie enthuses, "She's a truly great lady, a fellow Juilliard alum, fellow Italian, and one of my favorite actors. I cannot WAIT to trod the boards together in Doug's beautiful play."

Harrison, who "grew up in the theater,"
and appeared in "Wicked" on Broadway, has been working on several new projects. "I'm trying to help get a film produced written by and directed by a writer/director that I adore. I've been writing and producing a bit with a partner and I'm excited to see where that leads. I've been performing more improve and music in the city, which has been a nice release."

Significantly, both thesps were openly gay before this current wave of TV actors coming out. Harrison was 22 when he landed Justin on "Queer as Folk." "I remember wanting to figure out what kind of adult I was while this crazy job was taking up the vast majority of my life." On being out, he says, "I've been out since I was 16. I was never told NOT to be out but I was told I didn't HAVE to be out. But I knew I couldn't be anything else."

"Such Good People" comes out on DVD and VOD on April 14th.