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Full Force Gale :
In Los Angeles Magazine
by P.J. RENO

Best known for his role as gaylothario-slash-horn-dog Brian Kinney on Showtime’s Queer As Folk, actor Gale Harold’s upcoming feature Wake isn’t exactly what people may expect. Instead of playing the cool heartbreaker among a world of caring friends, Harold jumps into the role of Kyle Riven, a mental patient who comes home to visit his ailing mother. Things get complicated when his brother Sebastian asks him for medication to help euthanize their mother, and his violent, on-the-lam brother Ray shows up with their fourth brother, Jack, and two strippers. What starts off as a perverse family reunion brings out brotherly secrets, repressed anger, madness, and ultimately death. Not exactly a night of laughs and sex at Babylon, the night club on Queer As Folk. Why would Harold be drawn to something like Wake?
“To be frank, a lot of what attracted me to the film was the fact that my friends were making it,” he admitted, noting that his friend Henry LeRoy “Roy” Finch was writing and directing, and his producing partner/wife Susan-Landau Finch had put the project together. It turned out that Wake was a jumping- off point for all of them.
“It was my first lead role in a feature film, and it was Roy’s first feature directing, so that’s something I’ll never experience again like that, just jumping off and going for it,” Harold explained. “Furthermore, Roy had really ambitious and personal ideas about how he wanted to direct the film and how he wanted to structure it. And one of the beautiful things about doing something for the first time is you don’t have that fear of ‘Well, this is a complicated or oblique or abstract way of trying to work.’ You just want to do it. And you had the further excitement of not really having any money.” The film, shot entirely on location in Bath, Maine, in a house originally built in 1745, was a friend and family affair. Landau-Finch’s Oscar-winning father, Martin Landau, appears in a cameo role, and the shoestring production forced everyone to get into the spirit of the alternative and eclectic nature of the film. For Harold, the freeform spirit of the shoot helped him understand the character of Kyle, who ends up taking the medication slated for his sick mother. “He starts off in one very kind of sedate specific place,” Harold said, “which is maintaining a state of mind, trying to deal with chemical problems, and he seems to have it under control, and that very rapidly deteriorates to a place of being totally out of control. The question then is, ‘Will he be able to survive going there and coming back?’ So it was a lot to play, a lot of distance to cover. He wasn’t just observing the action, he was in the very center of the action.”

After three seasons on Queer As Folk, it was easy for Harold to see the difference between shooting a series and working on a film like Wake For an actor, the differences between the experience of working as a series regular on a TV show and starring in an independent feature couldn’t be more distinct.
“It’s always the writer’s genesis, but in something like Wake the characters kind of get born, live, and die while you’re making the movie,” he explained. “To some degree, in the television world, the characters are wrapped up before you ever meet them in a way, and you’re at the mercy of that process. And to be fair, you can’t have every actor on a television show kind of trying to make it up as they go along because it will never get done. But there is something to be said once the cameras get turned on and you’re in the room, and you really want to give a twist or give a deeper color to what is there, and you’re just told ‘That’s just not what we really want.’ And that’s a hard thing to hear, but you have to make those kinds of concessions. Luckily for me I’ve had the opportunity to do both—be in a very rigorous, controlled, environment that pays well, and work on a lot more challenging, frightening, seat-ofyour- pants things basically done for the thrill of it.” Snagging a television role is a great gig for any actor, but there can often be a price to pay if you get stereotyped, offered roles that are a variation of what already has been done. Harold, however, doesn’t see himself falling into that trap, thanks to Brian’s unique place in television.
“One thing that can be said about it, there are not a lot of characters really like him,” Harold said of Brian. “Since I’ve been working on Queer As Folk, most of the work I’ve done has been quite different. He’s so specific that almost anyone next to him would have an easily identifiable difference or makeup.”
Harold, who was born and raised in Georgia, went to American University in Washington, D.C., and studied finearts at the San Francisco Art Institute, is now part of a film where he’s one of the draws. Now a recognizable face thanks to Queer As Folk, Harold gets noticed. It also means he has to deal with fans and media that are interested in engaging with him about his career. While that may be a fun perk for actors looking for attention, Harold sees it as a potential challenge if he lets it get in the way of his work. “Later on, hopefully if I have a career that lasts, if I have a chance to do a lot more different things to flesh out my work, I think it will be easier for me,” he said. “I’m kind of trying to run from the calcification of being told you’re doing a good job all the time, because you sort of start to lean back on that. Or you just become too comfortable. It’s potentially damaging. That’s not really what it’s about. That kind of notoriety is outsized by what will help you grow, or keep you aware of what will allow you to be an actor or be in touch. It’s not that big of a deal or a nightmare or anything, but it can be an obstacle. And I’m not Brian Kinney. That’s an important thing, too. He exists on television. How they respond to him good or bad, that’s him. I can’t do anything about that.”
Sooner rather than later, Queer As Folk will come to an end, and Harold hopes he will be moving on to other roles. Now that the thrill of his first feature is behind him, The question is, where will Harold be in five years in terms of his acting?
“I want to be five years ahead of where I am now,” Harold explained. “I don’t mean that to be trite; I want to keep developing. I want to become relaxed in my own work and go deeper. Just growing and studying and trying new things and hopefully having professional access to work that’s good and interesting. I don’t want to be on the treadmill of artificiality.”

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