Matt Dallas can laugh now, but his former life as a gay man living as a straight man wasn’t a joke.
Dallas was told to stay in the closet after moving to L.A. to pursue acting at 18, particularly while portraying a boyishly cute titular character with the non-existent navel on ABC Family’s 2006-launched teen sci-fi drama Kyle XY. Other roles followed: he starred alongside Hilary Duff in ABC Family’s 2010 TV film Beauty & the Briefcase, and also played Katy Perry’s war-vet boyfriend in her 2009 “Thinking of You” music video and, that same year, Rebecca Romijn’s love interest, Chad, on ABC’s supernatural dramedy Eastwick.
And then in 2013 — Hollywood closet be damned — Dallas came out publicly, matter-of-factly announcing his engagement to now-husband Blue Hamilton. In 2015, they adopted their son, Crow.
Dallas’ latest project, Along Came the Devil, is a fresh horror-genre venture for the 35-year-old actor, who starred in a glut of slasher films at the onset of his career, including 2005’s Camp Slaughter and 2008’s Babysitter Wanted. In this demonic endeavor he plays a pastor, the kind you know only exists in the movies (if only they were this hot in real life).
Here, Dallas opens up about denying being gay on The Howard Stern Show (“the worst day of my life”), how coming out freed him and moving to Colorado to put family first.
What about horror appeals to you?
Honestly, I had done horror films early in my career and felt like I maxed out on doing them, but when I read this screenplay, I was excited about it because it wasn’t necessarily a slasher film. It wasn’t just straight-up horror; it was such a throwback to the exorcism films of the ’60s and ’70s, so I was excited to do something that played in a different world. The movie played with demons, and I loved the whole spiritual aspect of it. To play a pastor was something so different for me, so it was an exciting way to come back to the genre.
What are you looking for in projects at this point in your career?
I recently moved to Colorado, and my lifestyle shifted. But playing roles that I haven’t necessarily played in the past, whether it’s a pastor or a villain or things that are a part of myself, are what I haven’t explored. That, for me, is the biggest attraction to a project now.
Is this what happens when you become a father? Do you move to Colorado?
Honestly, that was a big part of it. I was going back and forth between L.A. and Phoenix. I grew up in Phoenix; my family’s there. And there was a part of me that felt like I wasn’t ready to necessarily totally walk away from L.A. So, we sold our house in Phoenix and went back to L.A. for a few months, and we were there for seven months. Those seven months were exactly what I needed to let my time in Los Angeles be what it was and move onto the next chapter in my life.
And it was a lot about being a father. Having a child in L.A., life was so much more difficult; that city is so consumed by the industry that I wanted to shift my priorities to family first, and let work be something that I love and enjoy, but not something that consumes my life. It was a lot easier to do outside of Los Angeles, and yeah, my husband grew up in Colorado and it was always his dream to live in the Rocky Mountains. And I love the mountains. It seemed like a natural next step for us.
Earlier this year you did a throuple episode of your vlog Matt and Blue with model-director Max Emerson. A lot of strong opinions popped up on the internet about you two exploring being a throuple in that video. Is that something you’ve seriously considered?
We did a whole series where we’re like, “We’re gonna just have fun and script some things.” And it was supposed to be for fun, but it’s crazy how many people took it seriously. But no, being in a throuple is nothing we’d ever really considered. We only wanted to make something that is true in the gay community and something that is relevant and have fun with it.
Do you think it’s easier now for actors to be out from the get-go?
One-hundred percent. I should say I don’t know. It’s definitely a different time. When we were shooting Kyle XY, I had agents at the time and people telling me that I had to hide being gay and had to work with a speech coach and go on carpets with a girl on my arm. We were at a different point in society than we are now. In my early 20s, I finally had my first taste of success, and felt like I could accomplish what I had come to L.A. to do, but also like it being taken away from me. And I was afraid of that happening because I had so many people in my head telling me how to act and behave.
I was afraid to come out. Sure, people still are today. But I do think as a society and an industry we have come so far. Now, we celebrate individuality. Especially in the industry, we still have a ways to go. We still don’t see openly gay actors play leading men roles. You have Love, Simon, but we don’t have an openly gay actor playing a superhero yet or playing a Mission: Impossible character.
In 2006, you appeared on The Howard Stern Show and denied claims made by Perez Hilton that you were gay. Have you followed up with Howard on this?
(Laughs) No. That was the last time I spoke to him. Dude, that was the worst day of my life. I woke up — it was 3 a.m. Los Angeles time — to do the interview. I was so unprepared for it, and I should’ve known better. My publicist told me at the time — promised me, swore up and down — that he wouldn’t bring up the whole gay thing. It wasn’t even a minute or two, and the entire interview became about it.
Fifteen minutes of you being asked how many women you’d slept with.
It was brutal. I remember sweating and feeling nervous about the interview because I wasn’t prepared to handle that. I was naive. And I hung up and crawled in bed under the blanket and didn’t get up that entire day. I should not have taken that interview to begin with, but I was like, “Howard Stern! My dad loves Howard Stern! I’m gonna do his show!” And I felt most embarrassed for my dad to hear it, more than anybody else. I was like, “Ugh, my dad listening to me go on for 15 minutes about all the girls I slept with in high school.” (Laughs) I can laugh about it now.
Do you think Hollywood handlers still force LGBTQ actors to stay in the closet?
Yeah, I’m sure, but we’re in a different place now. As a society, we’re more used to talking about it. So, these actors have seen other people go through this already; there are a lot more openly gay actors and more options for how to handle it now than before. There was no blueprint.
How did coming out change your career?
It freed me. And it allowed me to give less of a fuck. It was liberating as an artist, an actor, and a human being, and it changed a lot in that way. It also changed in that, now, most of the roles sent to me are gay roles. Unless my team is actively going after a character that’s not gay, the ones coming to me are mostly gay.
How do you feel about that?
It doesn’t bother me. I’m glad there are a lot more gay roles than before. I do think — as in the same way that straight actors get considered for gay roles — gay actors should be considered just as much for straight roles. We’re on the path to that.
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey, and Beyoncé. Reach him via his website at www.chris-azzopardi.com and on Twitter (@chrisazzopardi).
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