TV’s sexy taboo-buster, Luke Macfarlane
Luke Macfarlane is the sexiest gay on TV — an out actor playing a well-rounded gay character on network television. The 30-year-old Canadian plays Scotty Wandel on the ABC serial drama Brothers and Sisters (now in its fifth season on Global), a character who has smashed taboos south of the border.
The commitment ceremony between him and his partner Kevin Walker (played by Matthew Rhys) was the first-ever gay marriage by continuing characters on a US network (broadcast the same year as California’s notorious Prop 8 banning same-sex marriage). Last season, Kevin and Scotty began planning for a child through surrogacy. And the two men’s relationship is portrayed as physically passionate; no missing nor chaste kisses on this show.
Macfarlane is humble in the face of such controversial fare.
“I think the writers are doing something controversial. I’m just saying the words on the page,” he says. “I do feel a part of it, though; it’s wonderful.
“I’m quite proud of the fact that we told the story of how two people meet, how they fall in love, how they break up, how they fall in love again and how, ultimately, they build a life together, including kids, and integrate it into a wild family.”
Last season ended with a bang, a bloody car crash that will impact greatly the sprawling Walker family headed by matriarch Nora (Sally Field). Leads Rob Lowe and Emily VanCamp are gone and this season picks up one year later. “It’s been a year of tragedy for the family,” says Macfarlane. “A lot has happened since the car accident. In a strange sort of way it sets a tone that’s different for the show, it’s a little bit darker.”
MacFarlane is looking forward to taking his character into new territory. Given the Walker family’s penchant for drama, in many ways, Scotty and Kevin’s relationship is the most normal on the series. “Scotty is kind of the perfect guy, and Kevin and Scotty have almost the perfect relationship. But we’re actually in the middle of taping an episode that calls all that into question, which I’m pretty thrilled about. I’ve always thought that Scotty lets Kevin get away with way too much shit.”
Macfarlane was born and raised in London, Ontario. After high school, the LB Pearson School of the Arts, he bypassed Toronto and headed straight to New York to attend Juilliard to study drama. He graduated in 2003. LA soon beckoned. “So I’ve never did the whole Canadian thing.”
He did nab a leading role in the 2008 CBC miniseries Iron Road. “I had a great experience. I had always wanted to go to China. And we had an excellent cast, who I’ll never get to work with again: Peter O’Toole, Tony Leung and Sam Neill.
“I remember from my childhood these epic CBC miniseries… so it felt like I am a part of it, now.”
Notwithstanding Canadian progress on gay rights, Macfarlane is continually struck by how different the US and Canada are. “They do really feel like two different places,” he says. “The stereotype is true — Canadians are nicer.”
Is he worried about American reaction to that observation? “Oddly, I think Americans sort of pride themselves on not being nice,” he says, laughing. “I don’t think they’re going, ‘Ah, gee. I wish we were nicer.’”
Kevin, are you listening?
Macfarlane came out to the media in 2008. “It’s odd being put in the situation where you feel you have to talk about it, that it’s the right thing to do to talk about it.
I certainly never regret it, but
I guess I was a little bit naïve to think that once you come out, you are done. I think it’s something that’s been said before, but coming out is almost a lifelong process. It’s been very strange for me.
“Not that I don’t want to talk about my sexuality, I guess I’ve just run out of things to say.”
Despite his leading man good looks, Macfarlane may have narrowed his career options by coming out. He remains hopeful, however. “The only thing I can say is that I don’t know…. Society tends towards inclusion — in my lifetime it certainly has. So I’ll be part of that movement towards [gay actors] being leading men, because that’s the direction everyone wants to go.”