EDGE Interview: Matt Dallas Forgives Hollywood and He's Not Waiting for Apologies
Timothy Rawles READ TIME: 6 MIN.
Matt Dallas is one of the lucky ones. He's an actor who can actually talk about his latest movie thanks to a SAG waiver. It is an independent movie called "Shoulder Dance" which is currently running the festival circuit. Conversely, he isn't sure if he can talk about his past or future projects, so he wants to be on the safe side.
"I'd like to work again I prefer I don't get kicked out of the union," he stresses over the phone. "I support this strike one hundred percent. We are fighting for certain things that are an absolute necessity and it's crazy that we're even having to go through this."
But if you are old enough to remember a certain science fiction series that was popular on ABC Family back in 2006 then you are familiar with his work already. "Kyle XY" was what put Dallas on the shortlist of young up-and-coming actors to watch for at the time. It is a list that many starlets and Tinseltown dreamers yearn for; it's a list that precedes fame, a straight path on which Dallas was destined to walk. But there is a catch.
Two decades ago, any young, handsome gay actor with dreams of getting their star on Hollywood Boulevard needed two essential things; a car (because nobody walks in L.A.) and a closet to hide in. If you were publicly out, the doors of opportunity were locked from the inside. There is a surreptitious code that still exists in Hollywood, if you know an actor is gay, you never out them: It is the clandestine closet of queer talent.
"When I first arrived in Hollywood, in 2001, it was a very different place," says Dallas. "Being an out actor was not something that was celebrated. I had publicists, agents, and people telling me that I should stay in the closet and be on every red carpet with a girl on my arm. And so doing that for so many years, really fucked with my head. And really, I think I sort of lost touch with who I was as a person, and even as an artist or an actor."
Dallas's good looks and acting abilities got him noticed by everyone, including gossip blogger Perez Hilton who infamously publicly outed him in 2006. In the early 00s, being a gay actor in Hollywood was a leading man's death sentence. Dallas refuted Perez's allegations at the time not because he was ashamed, but because the greatest, most genuine parts of his soul were threatened.
"It was not only just my life or my career," he says, "but it was like it was my dream since the day I was twelve. This was my destiny; this was my future. Right? And he came and sort of like tried to take that all away." Dallas eventually came out, but the threat of losing everything he had worked so hard for had done its damage. "It took me so inside of myself that I was not able to work or express myself freely."
As for forgiving Hilton, Dallas says he has never been asked, "It would be nice if, you know, there was an official apology, but I'm not holding out for it. I moved on with my life."
Today, Dallas is an out and proud actor. He is married to musician Blue Hamilton and together they have two children, Crow and Rosa. He has the starring role as Ira in director Jay Arnold's dramedy "Shoulder Dance." His character is trying to overcome past feelings for his childhood friend Roger (Rick Cosnett) whom he has long carried a torch for. The conflict comes when Roger, along with his wife Lilly (Maggie Geha), asks to stay at his house for the weekend. The problem is, Ira is in a long-term monogamous relationship with Josh (Taylor Frey) who is happy with their situation but secretly longs for matrimony.
While Ira and Roger immediately reconnect, Josh and Lilly bond in the background. One night the four take ecstasy and some unrequited complications arise.
In some ways, the emotional part of the story mirrors Dallas' life today. He is married, unlike Ira, but was becoming complacent in life and accepted it because of self-forged paths. "I think we kind of all just accept where we are in our lives. And then at some point, we start to question and think about 'oh, did I intend to end up here?'" Dallas says. "That's definitely what I was experiencing in my life at the time. And I think that that was the same for Ira. He is in this long-term relationship. The expectation is that marriage is the next step. He followed the professional path and that took him to where he is. And then unexpectedly, this event came about and made him start questioning his present and his future." That was the big jump-off point for Dallas to mold the character, "I just started digging in from there."
Now with "Shoulder Dance," Dallas is free to use his talent while being able to represent the community genuinely. He even has a sex scene in the film, something he has never done before. There were discussions with his husband before he shot the scene and another one before the screening, but Dallas was committed to doing it along with co-star Taylor Frey. It is necessary to the story and they wanted it to feel real, he says.
"You just gotta get in there and just commit," Dallas contends. "I think that's what we did. There's no time to think about the other fifteen people in the room or the camera that's four feet away from your face; you kind of give in to the moment and hope and trust that it will turn out okay."
Everything did turn out OK. Not just the film, but the arc of Dallas' life. From growing up in the conservative state of Arizona to the state of conservatism in Hollywood, the actor is doing pretty well in both his private and professional life and though he can't talk about it, his next project is nothing like he has ever done before.
His journey from being a heartthrob to a hard hitter as an actor has been a tough one, but even the dark times were stepping stones to becoming who he is today. "I'm at a point in my life where, like my journey was my journey for a reason, and I now have a beautiful family and I'm excited to sort of like enter this new chapter of my life," he says.