Outward

The Real O’Neals’ Noah Galvin Is a Refreshingly Candid Interview Subject

Noah Galvin plays 16-year-old Kenny O’Neal on ABC’s The Real O’Neals.

 

 

ABC/Bob D’Amico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whenever I interview an actor, I can feel my brain shifting through the same series of emotions: excitement, enthusiasm, and finally—all too often—disappointment. It’s cool to chat with someone you’ve seen on TV or at the movies! But frequently, listening to the tape afterward, you hear a handful of empty compliments for their latest project, collaborators, and fans; a few bland not-quite-spoilers about things coming up on their show; and a couple of coy refusals to take a stand on anything even slightly controversial.

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It’s hard to blame them. For folks in the business of show, there’s nothing to be gained by being a blabbermouth, except perhaps the gratitude of entertainment journalists. And those of us on the other side of the microphone deserve a lot of the blame: When a performer hears the same questions over and over again, does anyone really think they’re going to come up with a fresh and fascinating response on the 48th time of asking? (This is true of all interview subjects of course, as scenes in Weiner, the recent documentary about Anthony Weiner’s 2013 run for mayor of New York, show all too clearly.)

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For these reasons and more, I doff my imaginary fedora with the press card tucked into the band to Vulture’s E. Alex Jung, whose interview with Noah Galvin, the star of ABC’s The Real O’Neals, is a big-mouthed thing of beauty.

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It’s obvious from the first sentence that Galvin is no media-trained automaton: Jung reports that the actor is “smoking a cigarette next to a bodega.” A non-Euro cigarette smoker? Anyone willing to admit to that modern American sin clearly hasn’t had all his edges sanded smooth by network-approved consultants. And that’s just the beginning. Galvin, 22 and openly gay, describes himself as an “anxiety-ridden, neurotic, nebbishy Jew actor.” In other words, an interviewer’s dream subject.

And what does Galvin reveal? He describes television’s process of deciding to renew or cancel its shows, in which networks “string you along,” as “abusive.” He calls magician David Blaine “the weirdest fucking dude” and Colton Haynes’ kinda sorta coming out “fucking pussy bullshit.” He calls out Los Angeles’ gays for their cowardly love of the closet.*

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But the interview is more than a glorious celebration of loose-lipped dishing. Galvin is a new kind of out actor: It’s not just that he’s contemptuous of entertainers who hide behind closet doors; he also calls out straight actors—like Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet—whose stereotype-driven portrayals of gay characters feel inauthentic to him. I was fascinated to learn that he’s gotten advice from Dan Savage—whose early life The Real O’Neals is very loosely based on—about how to respond to queer kids who watch the show then reach out to him for help with coming out and dealing with hostile parents. Galvin is just starting his Hollywood career, but I hope he keeps on flapping his gums. We need his fearless brand of truth-telling now more than ever.

*Update, June 10, 2016: After publication, Vulture deleted Galvin’s remarks about Bryan Singer and published a statement from Galvin.

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