Would it be bitchy to refer to Michael Urie as "the gay guy from "Ugly Betty?" Well, sure. But Urie does it himself in "He's Way More Famous Than You," his directorial debut, which stars Halley Feiffer and Urie's own partner, Ryan Spahn, as a screwed-up brother-and-sister team desperate to get an indie film off the ground in the hopes of saving their flagging careers. For Urie, it all gets a bit meta, since he directs the film-within-the-film, too. And sure, it's a well worn cliché that all actors want to direct, but Urie says that directing was always his goal. He spoke with Upcoming-Movies.com about finally getting a chance to step behind the camera.
Upcoming-Movies.com: So, Michael, how did you come to this and why did you want to do it?
Michael Urie: Well, I know it sounds like a cliché, but I always wanted to direct. That's what I really wanted to do when I got into show business. Obviously, I ended up acting, and I've had success and I'm very thankful for that. I put my name out there to direct an episode of "Ugly Betty," but that's weirdly political, and then we got canceled. But there's a lot that's real in this movie. I am, after all, the gay guy from "Ugly Betty," and just like in the movie, Ryan is my partner. We live together, and he and Halley were always laughing and giggling about this project. I agreed to give it a shot, and at some point, there was momentum, and then all of a sudden we were doing it. It's really a dream come true for me, especially since I thought that maybe it would never happen.
You've seen a lot of directors work. With that in mind, what kind of expectations did you have going into the shoot, and how were they changed by the end?
Michael Urie: That's an interesting question. You're right, I've seen a lot of different directors. On "Ugly Betty," we had different directors almost every week, and some of them were big names. That said, they weren't all successful. It wasn't like anyone actually failed, but sometimes the chemistry wasn't right, or they just couldn't say the right thing to the right actor at the right time. At other times, they were totally on the money. The other thing, too, is that I've been in a lot of indie films, and I've seen how those directors have to be creative because they don't have the budget. I guess what surprised me the most was just how calm I was. I didn't really think I would be, but I was like a Buddha when things went wrong. I think it's because I've seen problems solved with creativity and I've seen them solved with money, and I know that in each case, you have to work with what you have to get everything done.
How much are you like Michael, and how much are Ryan and Halley like Ryan and Halley?
Michael Urie: Wow. Well, I guess all three of us are rooted in some kind of reality here, but it's all very blown up. I'd like to think I'm a nicer person than you see in the movie. And Ryan and Halley aren't really like that, but at the same time, they're very close. What we wanted to come across throughout the film is that sense of closeness. Halley is kind of like the cousin who comes around all the time. She's like family. All of us, we're very close, and we really wanted that to come out. I hope it does.