Randy's chat on Showtime's Talk city

February, 4 2001

Thanks to: James Tee
Courtesy: xof
Edited by: Marcy
Read our chat with Randy Harrison! Twenty-three year old Randy plays "Justin," a young man who is in the middle of discovering himself, and who is also hopelessly smitten with "Brian." Randy is making his television debut in Showtime's "Queer As Folk."

Showtime: Thanks for signing on for our chat with Randy Harrison. Twenty-three year old Randy Harrison plays "Justin," a young man who is in the middle of discovering himself, and who is also hopelessly smitten with "Brian.” He is making his television debut in Showtime's "Queer As Folk.” Ask Randy about his life before and during QAF. Welcome Randy! Let's get started!

Randy H: Hey everyone! I'm glad to be here.

Lajk: I enjoy the show a lot. My question is --when you first heard of the audition for the show, what was your first thought?
Randy H: My first thought was that I was glad to have an audition!

Rockoff: Randy, how do you like working with Gale Harold?
Randy H: Gale is wonderful to work with.

Johann67: What was the funniest moment for you while making QAF?

Randy Harrison: The funniest moment of making "Queer As Folk" was probably one of our first read-throughs. When we all met one another and first read through the script together.

Jase: Are you worried that you'll be in any way 'typecast' after this? What are your future aspirations as an actor?

Randy Harrison: I think doing any series where you are seen as the same character twenty-two hours in a season can make it difficult for an actor to be seen as any other character. However, I also think that it's an amazing opportunity to be able to spend so much time working with good scripts and good directors, and other talented actors. I have no idea what I will do in the future. But, I look forward to seeing what kind of opportunities will present themselves, and am prepared to face whatever challenges playing this role will bring up for me as an actor.

Vanessa666: Hey Randy, How's Life? How has “Queer As Folk” changed your life?

Randy Harrison: My life has changed, in that I've gone from being a broke college student to suddenly being able to support myself. My life has also changed in that I live in Canada, instead of the United States.

TJ: Hi Randy, I was wondering how hard it is for you to do love scenes, especially the real erotic scene in the first episode with Brian.

Randy Harrison: For me, the difficulty of the sex scenes lies primarily in the emotional state of the character at the time. That first sex scene was definitely the most difficult, because Justin is in a place of utter vulnerability, and it was also shot on the third day of shooting before I really knew Gale, and before I was very familiar with the crew.

Tweety: Do you have a fan mail address yet?

Randy Harrison: If you send fan mail to Showtime, it gets to me.

Hardwood: have you received any kind of feedback from anyone who credits your character with helping them to come out?

Randy Harrison: I've gotten quite a bit of mail from teenagers, who, I don't know if the character is actually helping them "come out,” but who definitely expressed a lot of gratitude for being able to see themselves reflected on television, and who are comforted by Justin.

MaryMiracle: What's your favorite episode?

Randy Harrison: My favorite episode so far is Episode 11, which you guys haven't seen yet…and it's not just because I'm not in it that often!

Smooshpeas: Do you think playing a gay character will help other young gay people find it easier to come out if they watch you in “Queer as Folk”?

Randy Harrison: I hope so.

Randy: Hey Randy -- just wanted to tell you that I think you play a great character on this show, and I wanted to know how you felt about how graphic the show comes off as being, and what kind of a message you hope to convey with your character?

Randy Harrison: I'm actually kind of proud of the graphic nature of the show, only because it depicts sexuality that has not been shown on television before, and that is generally avoided. I don't try to convey any message by playing Justin. I'm only trying to accurately present the character that is given to me in every script.

Stormyday: Randy, do you have any movies in the future planned?

Randy Harrison: Not yet! Are you writing one?

Bi Kat: Randy, when you got to play Justin -- were you nervous since "Brian" is so fine?

Randy Harrison: (laughing) No.

HOPOLO: Are the producers thinking of spinoffs -- IE the lesbian couple with their own show if this goes through a successful season as it seems to be?

Randy Harrison: As far as I know, there is no definite plan for spin offs. I think the producers have their hands full just dealing with the show.

Romeyn: Wow, I didn't think you were that old. I'm actually twenty-three myself. How long have you been in show business?

Randy Harrison: I have been acting since I was seven years old, and I've never stopped. And twenty-three isn't that old, is it?

DJ: Randy, how does this role compare in difficulty to others that you have had?

Randy Harrison: This is the first time I have ever been on television, and the largest challenge to me was switching mediums, and learning to act for a camera, and performing at the speed in which television is shot.

Stlouismuny: Would you ever return to live theatre, or stay with TV?

Randy Harrison: Oh, I never want to stop doing live theater.

JayDotCom: I hope you read this, cause I think you relate to me the best – you’re young and dealing with the whole issue of coming out and recognizing how you feel. How will your character deal with rejection from his father?

Randy Harrison: Watch and see!

Naturally: I am from Pittsburgh and find it hard to believe this series takes place there -- how much actual footage actually takes place in Pittsburgh on Liberty Avenue?

Randy Harrison: Absolutely none! The producers chose Pittsburgh because they wanted a sort of general, middle American town. I don't think their aim was ever to accurately recreate the Pittsburgh gay community.

Gary: Hi Randy! I want to thank you for portraying your character so well. I think many young guys like myself can relate to "Justin" and it helps to see how someone in our situation deals. You're awesome (and gorgeous!) and I hope you continue to do great things!

Randy Harrison: Thank you so much!

Star: I have never missed an episode, and I have to say I think that you are doing an excellent job. Who is your favorite cast member and why?

Randy Harrison: I don't think I have a favorite cast member. We are all close in very different ways, we are like a big family here, and I love everyone.

Bill1: How much of Justin's character development comes from the director and writers, and how much is your input?

Randy Harrison: Well, the scripts come from the writers. Generally, it depends on the director. There are some directors that we have had, that I pretty much do everything on my own, and they work mostly with the cameras, and other directors work intimately with the actors. All in all, I don't think any of Justin could be created without all the writers and the producers and the directors. The show -- and every aspect of the show -- is very much a collaborative effort.

JBKroon: Hi, Randy! Great show, and great work on your part portraying Justin. Whereas HBO's "OZ" has been quite forthcoming in showing male nudity, do you foresee Showtime doing same for any "QAF" characters? Either way, what are your thoughts?

Randy Harrison: The thing about male nudity and "Queer As Folk" is that practically the entire time the characters are naked, they are in sexual situations. Therefore, it would be impossible to use full frontal nudity, because it would be erections, which would be pornography. You will see penis if you watch the show enough. I'm not promising mine.

Danny: Excellent. My comment for Randy is that first of all I really appreciate his bringing of Justin to life. I'm going through a lot of what he is with my family and "coming out.” So seeing Justin has been a very emotional experience, and touching! Randy Harrison: Thank You Randy! I'm so glad that watching Justin has affected you emotionally. It affects me emotionally to play Justin, and it makes me happy to know I am sharing something with other people in that way.

ScreamX1: Hey Randy -- how does it make you feel to have the knowledge that your excellent portrayal of Justin is an inspiration for other teens (like myself) to stay true to themselves? You truly are someone to look up to.

Randy Harrison: Thank you so much! It is overwhelming to hear things like that. In some ways, though, Justin is an inspiration for me as well. I think he is much stronger in a lot of ways than I could ever have been when I was his age, and I admire him for that.

Boogie7: Randy -- Do you foresee Justin living with Brian until he graduates or are they even looking that far ahead in the storyline?

Randy Harrison: You know, we've already played that out as far as shooting, and I don't want to give anything away.

Jim V: Does Hal Sparks keep the set laughing all the time?

Randy Harrison: Yeah, he does. Hal is hilarious.

Aurastar7: Are you going to be on any talk shows or are there any interviews available for the public to see?

Randy Harrison: Yeah, there are a lot of magazine interviews. I can't even keep track of all of them. And there is this. I'm not planning to be on any talk shows anytime soon.

RalphAdam: Your outfits are really neat do you get to pick out your wardrobe? Do you get to keep it?

Randy Harrison: I don't pick out my wardrobe. I don't keep it. But, occasionally, I will steal something for the weekend!

Ferret: What do you think is the biggest lesson that your character has to learn about being an adult or being a gay man?

Randy Harrison: Justin is learning so much. I can't particularly choose which lesson is the most significant, but he is learning about standing up for himself, he is learning about the reality of injustice, he is learning about love, and relationships, and he's constantly shattering his myths about society and sexuality and family and romance. It's amazing playing Justin, because I started playing a very naive and innocent 17 year old, and it seems that every episode, Justin experiences something, or observes something, that makes him grow so significantly.

Major Catch: Is there a traditional or classic role that you would like to play in the future?

Randy Harrison: There are tons of great roles I'd love to play. Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet,” Prince Arthur in "King John,” Alan Strang in "Equus.” There are so many phenomenal roles out there, and so much great writing.

Jennifer: "Justin" has some very emotionally charged scenes. How do you prepare and get motivated for them?

Randy Harrison: It's difficult. I prepare a lot beforehand, and I really examine the scripts. I try to make sure I know where Justin is coming from, where he is going to, and also with what he is aiming to achieve in the scene. Then, generally, I just play off my partner, and through the rehearsals, and talking to the director about the scene. Generally I am in the state of the scene by the time it comes around to shooting it. Also, generally, you'll shoot one scene for four or five hours, and you have plenty of time to find and get to the emotions of the character.

Trina: Hi Randy. My name is Trina. You are amazing on the show. I know you have done theatre for years and I was wondering if you have a most embarrassing moment in the theatre story

Randy Harrison: Well, first of all, hi Trina! Honestly, I'd say anything that I did between the ages of one and sixteen would be pretty humiliating to look at -- the awkward years, as they say.

Brandon: Who plays Daphne and how old is she?

Randy Harrison: Nakyla Smith plays Daphne, and she's 18. I love her, and she's great. I'm glad you like her!

Jeffy: Do you think the Justin character is an accurate portrayal of gay youth today, and do you consider the character a role model?

Randy Harrison: First of all, I don't really know how one character could be an accurate portrayal of an entire group. At least, not if you wanted the character to be an idiosyncratic individual. I don't think we ever aimed at trying to represent a culture; we just wanted to create realistic individuals. I think Justin has a lot of qualities that should be emulated and respected, but at the same time, I think Justin does a lot of trashy and obnoxious things too. I don't think any of the characters on "QAF" are flawless.

Scot Harrison: did you ever imagine financial and career success this quickly?

Randy Harrison: Well, I'm not financially secure because I'm donating every cent I make to my impoverished older brother, so he can support his wife and family!

CTDave: Are you still filming episodes?

Randy Harrison: Yeah, we are on Episode Nineteen.

Taronda: I think you are so cute. Do you get a lot of fan mail?

Randy Harrison: Not copious amounts, but some -- and it's very great to know that my character is reaching people.

Phil: Hello Randy, I love the show. How is it working with such a diverse group of actors and you being the youngest cast member?

Randy Harrison: Hi Phil! It's great working with so many amazing people; it's an amazing learning environment for me.

Lee: You do your job so well, is it the writers, or do you bring something to the table?

Randy Harrison: Thank you, I'm glad you liked my performance. As I said before, I think it's very much a collaborative effort. I bring as much to the table as I can, and I think everyone involved with the show brings something personal to the table, and the creation of every character.

RupertAnthony: Do you think that your fellow cast members will remain friends well after the show has ended?

Randy Harrison: I'm sure we will.

James: What made you decide to audition for the show?

Randy Harrison: My agent submitted me. It was a very typical audition process.

Jennifer: Are y'all making them throw out all the bloopers or are you able to save them for the final wrap-up party?

Randy Harrison: I don't know if they are printing all of our outtakes. I hope so, because we have had quite a few funny ones.

Jase: How long did it take to establish the “chemistry” that we see developing week to week now on the show?

Randy Harrison: Well, the great thing in playing Justin is that the first time the show begins is the first time he's meeting everybody. So at the pilot, I was a stranger, and we were all just meeting each other. Our characters’ relationships have all grown, as our personal relationships have grown and we've gotten to know each other.

Chris-NY: Randy -- did the USA cast ever meet the UK cast?

Randy Harrison: No, we haven't, but we've met Russell Davies, the creator of the British series, and he's amazing. Certain members of the British series also mailed us things that their characters wore for their American counterparts to wear on the show.

Envoi: Randy, the experience that Justin has with his classmates -- being teased and harassed -- was that hard material for you to work with?

Randy Harrison: Yeah, it's difficult to go into an environment of shooting where you haven't met the other actors, and their job is to scream at you and call you "faggot.” However, it makes it pretty easy to go there emotionally.

GregNVA: The QAF show has an awesome soundtrack -- what kind of music do you like?

Randy Harrison: I listen to an eclectic collection of music. I just bought the new Radiohead CD, and the Velvet Underground boxed set. I've listened to everything from folk, country, classical, to punk, and trance, and electronica.

Ger: Randy, were you really listening to Moby in the scene from tonight's episode when you're singing to yourself?

Randy Harrison: Yes, I was!

Serenity: Which actors have inspired you?

Randy Harrison: Pretty much every time I go to see a film, or go to a play, there are actors who I feel I can learn from watching perform. I don't have any one particular role model.

Steven In Dallas: How many hours a week do you work in making one show?

Randy Harrison: We work seven working days to make one episode. Generally, the crew is working between fourteen and seventeen hour days, every day, but I don't have to be there all the time, only when I am working on one of my scenes -- so it depends on the episode how much I work, and whether I am heavily featured or not.

Wiubear: Have you or any of your co-stars signed on to do more episodes after this year’s are done?

Randy Harrison: Yeah, we are required to stay on for five more years, IF they keep bringing it back, that doesn't mean necessarily we will get five seasons.

ThereAreTwo: It's obvious that the cast is becoming more comfortable with one another as the episodes progress. Can you imagine this being a five season run? If so, who do you think Justin will be at the end of that time?

Randy Harrison: I can't imagine being here for five more years, although it will be great if the show is that successful. I see Justin in five years as being a successful graphic designer, graduating from art school, and having his own place. Really, I have no idea what they are planning on doing with us in the upcoming seasons, but I'm sure it will be exciting.

Buffboi Minneapolis: Randy, You are so lucky to be working with Sharon Gless. Has she taken you under her wing (so to speak) and given you any helpful advice?

Randy Harrison: Sharon is brilliant, and it's a great honor to be working with her. Every time you're in a scene with Sharon, it definitely feels that it's taken to a new level, because she is so committed. She has taken all of us under her wing. She calls us "her boys.” And is so giving, and kind.

Vanya: Seems to me that your having been assigned the love scenes early on in the production was an advantage, from an actor's point of view, and such as you describe it wouldn't Justin's vulnerability have been, in fact, a legitimate reflection of your own, real vulnerability under, how shall we say, the more than simply "given" circumstances?

Randy Harrison: Yes, you are exactly right.

ScreamX1: Let's say Brian drops off the face of the earth; who else would you like to see Justin with and why?

Randy Harrison: If Brian were to fall off the face of the earth, I think Justin should learn to be single.

Scoshi: Randy, Showtime has opened many doors for viewers; as an actor, are there any doors you wouldn't enter?

Randy Harrison: No, I would never want to limit myself beforehand.

Smtnsweet: Will you be doing an Internet video interview like the one seen of Hal and Gale?

Randy Harrison: I actually did one. I don't know if they put it on the Internet, but I did do one.

Chris--NC: Are you hoping Showtime is just the starting point for conquering the ground that ELLEN broke on ABC?

Randy Harrison: Well, I hope what this show does is just sort of normalize the presence of gay characters on television -- and shock American audiences into finally getting to a place where it's not a big deal to see two people of the same sex making out in a scene.

Nvzno1: Do you enjoy working with the director and producer, and are they open to new ideas if the actors have a different feel for the scene?

Randy Harrison: Yeah, the directors and producers on the show have all been extraordinary. It is a pleasure for me to collaborate with them. They are very open to your suggestions.

Maclen: What is your opinion about straight persons playing in the role of gay characters and vice versa? I heard Hal Sparks and the actor who portrays David are really straight and it does make me feel differently about the show.

Randy Harrison: Frankly, I don't think the actor's sexuality matters at all. I think if they are good actors, then they are good actors, period. I feel that any committed actor should have the flexibility to play a character of a different sexuality than his own. And I think all of our actors, straight and gay, are committed to playing their gay roles and doing very convincing jobs.

Harri: Hey Randy, is there ever any improv during the shooting?

Randy Harrison: There's a limited amount. Generally, you can't change the scripts without clearing it with the producers first. So most of the changing of the script and the improvisation goes on during the read through process.

Skip: Randy, your bio says you have done musical theater. You can sing as well as act?

Randy Harrison: I have been known to sing!

Allen195: Randy -- how would you feel about doing a major motion picture based on your “Queer As Folk” character?

Randy Harrison: I feel the character of Justin is very specifically a series television character. I feel that series television is something that is shot to be seen one hour a week for twenty two episodes a year and it ends up creating a very different kind of character than one that could carry a one and a half hour long feature. But I'm sure that Justin would love to be the star of a movie.

RupertAnthony: If you knew the show was about to end, what would you have wanted your character Justin to have accomplished?

Randy Harrison: I feel like Justin is all the time accomplishing things that I'm proud of him for accomplishing. I don't think that there is one specific goal that he is aiming to achieve.

Outkast1: Randy, where do you see yourself in the future after the show?

Randy Harrison: My only goal is to have a career as a working actor. Thanks everybody for coming, I had a great time answering your Questions, and keep watching "Queer As Folk.”

Showtime: Thank you for chatting with Randy Harrison. Showtime plans to regularly introduce you to the creative forces behind QAF. Tune in to SHOWTIME for a new episode next Sunday, February 11th at 1pm ET/PT. And log on to www.queer.SHO.com at 11pm ET/8pm PT for a live chat with Hal Sparks, "Michael." A production of Showtime and Talk City Marketing Group. Copyright 2001, All rights reserved.