Actor Michael Urie on ‘Chicken & Biscuits,’ being in Netflix’s first gay rom-com and more

7633_The Cast of Chicken & Biscuits (c) Emilio Madrid
Michael Urie (center) and the cast of “Chicken & Biscuits.”
Photo: Emilio Madrid

Michael Urie fell in love with movies and performing at a young age. As a child, he would often take his action figures to re-enact scenes from movies that he’d seen.

Having grown up in Plano, Texas, the closest thing that Urie could get to learning about movies at the time was joining theater in his school.

“I was trying to be director of plays in school plays, but I ended up on stage because there were not enough boys,” said Urie. “I remember getting a really big laugh in 10th grade. It was spontaneous, I didn’t know it was gonna happen, it was some bit I came up with on the spot. It got a huge laugh and I thought, this is where I want to be. If I can keep making people laugh, I can never give this up.”

Urie would go on to attend the Julliard School in New York City. During his time there, one of the roles he played is Mercutio in “Romeo & Juliet,” during which time he really solidified that he wanted to be an actor even though he had hit some roadblocks along the way.

“During a performance of the play in DC, we were doing it for a bunch of kids. We were doing it in such a light way up until Mercutio’s death,” said Urie. “When I was stabbed on stage, they were shocked and devastated. I heard them scream and gasp at the death — no one is ever surprised at that death, but the kids were surprised. This is theater, you can’t get this anywhere else. As I was lying there dead on stage, hearing them mourn me, I thought that [theater] has been good to me and bad to me, but I get it now. I get why we stick with it.”

Michael Urie (left) and Devere Rogers in “Chicken & Biscuits”Photo: Emilio Madrid

Urie is currently in the cast of the new hit play “Chicken & Biscuits.” The play centers around a Black family, headed by rivaling sisters, Baneatta and Beverly, that come together after the death of their patriarch. Urie plays Logan Leibowitz, a white Jewish man who is dating Baneatta’s youngest son Kenny.

“Logan is a Jewish man, but he’s not practicing — he’s never been in synagogue let alone a Black church,” said Urie. “He starts dating Kenny, who loves him and accepts him, but his family doesn’t know me and doesn’t know I’m coming to the funeral.”

Throughout the course of the play, Urie’s character goes from being a fish out of water to a part of the family.

“Logan gets to what it’s like to be a Black church and gets to experience a true sermon, they kind of do in full in the play,” said Urie. “Norm Lewis is pastor of the church, and he really goes to church. My character has never been in religious establish, yet he is amen-ing and hallelujah-ing every night.”

Urie hopes that those who come and see the play can see a little bit of themselves in the story and characters.

“Here’s a guy coming into a situation that he is nervous about, worried that he’s not going to fit in, but at end of the experience, he does belong and can relate. A lot of people are sitting down thinking about how we’re all different, rather than how we’re the same,” said Urie. “This story is about a Black family, but I’ve heard from white people that their family is like that. We all mourn the losses of our loved ones. I want people to walk away filled with joy and communion and see a little of themself on stage.”

Looking ahead, you can catch Urie in Netflix’s first gay holiday rom-com “Single All The Way.” The film, which drops on Dec. 2, follows a Los Angeles man who goes home to New Hampshire for the holidays planning on bringing home his friend to pose as his boyfriend, only to find that his mother is trying to set him up with someone.

“His family wants him to settle down, and shows up at the holidays single, they get on him. He asks his longtime best friend to pretend like they fell in love, and he agrees begrudgingly,” said Urie. “Turns out his mom set up on a blind date with her trainer, and the whole plan is spoiled.”

Throughout the story, Urie’s character gets stuck between the opinions of his family, some of whom want him to be with the trainer and the others want him to be with his friend, and holiday shenanigans ensue. 

“It’s very funny. These are some of the funniest people I’ve ever worked with. This movie is very Christmas sweatery, hunky and delicious,” said Urie.

You can follow Urie on Twitter @michaelurie and on Instagram @michaelurielikesit.

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