EDGE Rewind: Out Actor Luke McFarlane, Denied Big Roles for Years, Gets His Due in 'Bros'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday February 9, 2023
Originally published on August 30, 2022

Luke Macfarlane
Luke Macfarlane   (Source:Instagram)

EDGE is reaching into its archive and sharing some of our favorite stories from the past.

Luke Macfarlane saw his career sputter after coming out in 2008. Now the star-quality hunk has his big-screen leading man moment in the upcoming gay rom-com "Bros."

In a feature interview with the veteran TV and film actor, Vanity Fair said "Macfarlane oozes leading-man energy" and quoted "Bros" director Nicholas Stoller as saying, "I had this feeling when Luke walked in, and then when he auditioned, of, 'Why isn't this guy a mega movie star?'"

It may seem odd that Macfarlane didn't break out from the acclaimed TV drama "Brothers and Sisters," where he played a popular character — a popular gay character, in fact, the "Scotty" half of same-sex couple Kevin and Scotty, whose marriage on the show was, Vanity Fair recalled, "seismic for network TV in 2008." That was the same year that ballot initiative Proposition 8 passed in California, snatching marriage rights away from same-sex families a mere six months after marriage equality was legalized in the state.

That was also the moment Macfarlane chose to come out publicly. "My father had passed away, and all the sort of 'what's important' life stuff was happening," the 42-year-old actor recalled. "Having gone through press junkets on shows where I'd never mentioned I was gay — not that I was lying, it was nobody's business — I was like, 'I've got to say something.'"

He had nothing but authenticity to gain from it, as "Bros" co-writer and Macfarlane's co-star Billy Eichner told the magazine. "Luke didn't come out to sell a book," Eichner said. "He didn't come out to get on the cover of People Magazine. He didn't come out to give his career a burst of relevance, the way other actors do. It was very rare for the time."

Luke Macfarlane in "Bros"
Luke Macfarlane in "Bros"  (Source: Universal Pictures)

But, it turned out, he had a career to quite possibly lose. Macfarlane transformed his physique at the gym following the end of "Brothers and Sisters," Vanity Fair recounted, hoping for a part in a superhero movie or TV show, but he was rebuffed because of his sexuality.

"I can literally remember an agent once saying to me, 'Superman can't be gay' — like just straight out," Macfarlane said, before adding, "I do remember being frustrated, seeing other actors and straight guys my age" get the parts he felt he was perfect for. "I was like, 'Dude, I'm the perfect age for this stuff.' And it wasn't clicking, for whatever reason."

Not that "whatever reason" is particularly hard to guess. Eichner said, "No one calls you and says, 'We found out you're gay so we're not casting you.' But my gut feeling is that he didn't get nearly the amount of opportunities that he should have and that he deserved" compared with the sort of work "a straight actor with his look and his qualifications and his training and his exposure was getting at the time."

Still, his talent is undeniable. Macfarlane has become a staple in Hallmark movies, filming more than a dozen over the course of eight years, Vanity Fair said... including the one that let him be gay on screen again: "Single All the Way," the Christmas-themed gay rom-com that paired him (sort of) with Michael Urie.

"I always felt like I'd kind of wink at the camera a little bit because I knew that the most provocative thing they were putting on air was a gay man playing everybody's fireman — that satisfied me for a while," he told the magazine.

Now, with "Bros" set to make history as the first gay rom-com to get a major studio release, Macfarlane seems poised to claim the stardom that's dangled just out of reach for so long. Vanity Fair raved about his performance in the new film, writing, "And damn, is he good in 'Bros' — sexy, increasingly hilarious, weirdly heartbreaking. He unveils himself as a movie star more with every kiss and tear and confession."

See for yourself in the movie's official trailer, below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.