T.R. Knight Takes Center Stage in 'Parade'
T.R. Knight was on a hugely popular television series, Grey's Anatomy, and he became well known not only for his acting but for being the target of a slur from a costar. After leaving the show that introduced all of America to his boyish good looks as sweet and sensitive Dr. George O'Malley, Knight spoke to The Advocate about returning to his theatrical roots in a Los Angeles production of Parade.
Originally on Advocate.com
By Michael Kearns
T. R. Knight returns to the stage in Parade, a dramatic musical turn, within days of his Grey’s Anatomy character being killed off. Leo Frank, the character he’s playing, is based on the tragic life of a Jewish man who was wrongfully accused of murder. While he adamantly refuses to make comparisons -- they are, admittedly, a tad facile -- Knight was also the victim of a scandal that was rooted in discrimination and public proclamations over which he had little control.
While his decision to leave the hit TV series (for which he received an Emmy nomination) had nothing to do with his well-publicized coming-out process, it feels like Knight is more fully possessed than ever, projecting an inherent sweetness that is immediately palpable.
Knight radiates a refreshingly rare humility.
Even though you began your career “on the boards,” and cultivated a sterling résumé, you haven’t been onstage in five years, right? Do you sing?
I’ve spent most of my life doing theater -- there’s a certain comfort in that, but what skews it, what alters it, what throws it for me is that it’s a musical and I’m not a singer. As soon as I found out that I got the part, I started two months of extensive voice lessons. I worked very hard to try to, in a very short time, understand what it is to be a singer. I did musicals when I was in high school but certainly to no acclaim. I certainly don’t have the years under my belt that my fellow cast members do. I know that I can only catch up so far in a very short period of time. All I can ask of myself is to work as hard as I can, and I’ll get to where I’ll get to. I’m not going to be at the same level of the rest of the cast; that’s just not possible. It’s a challenge: a challenge to prepare, a challenge to work, a challenge to learn new things. I have to forgive myself that I’m not further along in the process than I am, which has been a huge learning experience for me. I have a tendency to be very strict and hard on myself. It’s so nice to still be learning this much.
You have said, “I hope being gay isn’t the most interesting part of me.” What is the most interesting part of you?
[Laughs mischievously] I don’t think I can answer that. I wouldn’t begin to know how. That’s a good question, thank you. It does beg that question, doesn’t it? [More laughter, more mischievously] I have a lot of self-deprecating answers at the tip of my tongue, but I think it’s best if I don’t throw them out right now.
Do you feel that being openly gay has cast you as some kind of role model or spokesman?
I don’t feel that. I just feel that I’m an actor.
How’s the boyfriend [Mark Cornelsen]?
He’s seeing the show on opening night. I want to hold off on the previews; there’s still a lot for me to sort through.
If it becomes legal, would you consider marriage?
Let’s have it be legal first. That’s what I’d like to focus on. Then we’d be free to make a decision.
To read more about Knight and his transition back to theater, check out the full article on Advocate.com.
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