‘I am no clown’: Billy Porter on how it’s taken the industry over two decades to take him seriously

Entertainment

Billy Porter says he’s struggled to be taken seriously over the years – as he warns critics that while he “may wear dresses on the red carpet, make no mistake, I am no clown”.

The Emmy-winning actor – whose movies include Cinderella, The Intern and Like A Boss – tells Sky News it’s taken around 25 years to be treated like a professional artist.

“My brand, once I got in, has been ‘fabulous’, ‘Billy Porter is fabulous’, ‘Billy Porter does fabulous’.

“I am a very serious human being – and the conversation that I am having with the world is ‘fabulous’ and ‘serious’ do co-exist.”

His latest movie is Our Son, alongside Welsh actor Luke Evans, a moving drama that tells the story of a same-sex couple navigating the difficulties of co-parenting through a divorce.

After 13-years together, Nicky and Gabriel find themselves squabbling over the custody of their eight-year-old son, Owen.

Porter and Evans also collaborated on a song for the film’s soundtrack – Always Be My Man – which they performed at its Tribeca Festival premiere last year.

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Porter says he hopes the film will help change some perceptions about him – and about the nature of gay relationships, too.

(R-L) Porter and Luke Evans. Pic: Universal
Image:
(R-L) Porter and Luke Evans. Pic: Universal

‘Let’s talk about what happens after’

“To have it be about humans – not a heterosexual, not a homosexual – but the breakdown of a human marriage, was really important to me.

“Because as a 54-year-old black, out, queer – whatever you want to call it – gay man, who’s been in the business for over 30 years, I’ve been watching ‘coming out stories’ for 30 years.

“I am tired of them. We got that story. Let’s now talk about what happens after coming out.”

The actor thinks the world has come a long way when it comes to how same-sex relationships are treated and played out on screen.

He says we should “honour” that, before complaining about where we’re not.

Porter became the first openly gay man to win an Emmy award for Best Actor in a drama series for his role in Pose back in 2019.

But the star says he was deeply disappointed by the energy around the film’s release in the US, late last year.

Pic: Universal
Image:
Pic: Universal

‘It hurts my feelings’

Released with little fanfare, it’s been compared to divorce dramas including Kramer Vs Kramer and Marriage Story – and largely judged to be wanting.

Porter says: “They just threw it out. Nobody saw it. Nobody even knows it’s out. And that hurts my feelings. It does. It deserves better than that.”

He goes on: “There was no care. With that said, it does not diminish the value – this will be there and people will be able to find it.

“Our movie – because it’s a movie – will have a life. And I’m excited about that life. I’m excited about the release in the UK and Europe. It’s already having a life that didn’t exist [here in] America.”

Porter says the film wasn’t given a chance to really take off in the US, but hopes it may do just that here for its UK release.

Our Son in UK cinemas now.

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