GT Stage

Mad Men star discusses coming out

Bryan Batt on coming out, wedded bliss and his new stage show...

Bryan Batt has done it all. He's probably best known for starring in Mad Men, and last year he even appeared alongside Brad Pitt and Chiwetel Ejifor in the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave. But Bryan's true love lies in the theatre. And from 3 until 7 June, you can catch Bryan with his one-man show Batt on a Hot Tin Roof at London's Crazy Coqs.

In the first part of the interview, we talk to Bryan about the inspiration behind his one man show, his relationship with his family and his experience of coming out.

How did the idea for the show come about?
I’ve mainly done on and off Broadway theatre for years and all my friends thought I should do a one man show. At first I was a nervous wreck. It was a totally petrifying yet thrilling experience, but I had the time of my life. It all comes down to you telling the story, singing the songs and interacting with the audience, creating an evening of entertainment where no one else can get blamed if people don’t have a good time with you [laughs]. It went so well that over the years I have changed and morphed it and it’s been an art form I never knew I would have so much fun working with.

Some of the show is in reference to your childhood growing up in New Orleans. What was it like?
You know, I thought it was normal [laughs]. New Orleans is like no other city in this country [the states] it’s more European, there’s a way of life here. It is the only place I know where you’re having lunch and you’re talking about what you are going to have for dinner. People here embrace the uniqueness and the culture. Everything has evolved here and the culinary arts is just exploding, especially after Hurricane Katrina. When something like Hurricane Katrina happens it makes you really appreciate what you have.

In your show you talk about your relationship with you father. What was your relationship like?
My father was this strapping manly man and my mother was very intelligent and sweet, the epitome of the gentile femininity. My mother introduced me to everything of beauty in the world, all the jazz, dance and theatre, you name it. On the other hand my father liked sports and scotch, so guess who I identified with? [Laughs]. But oddly enough me and my father did love each other very much and I do believe you can love someone very much, even though you are very different. You can’t expect things of people that they are incapable of giving you.

What was your experience like of coming out?
I was a late bloomer, I was secretly experimenting a lot during my last couple of years at college even though I had a girlfriend at the time. It wasn’t until I was working on my first Broadway show and I got cast in a dinner theatre production of Evita that I met my partner Tom and we’ve been together ever since. Growing up I had no gay role models and I thought men didn’t really couple together. But then I saw people who had been together for years, who had good relationships and I thought maybe this could happen, maybe I could have love in my life. After Tom moved in my mum got a bit suspicious and my bother did as I hadn’t been on a date with a girl for a very long time [laughs]. I made my brother ask one day when the conversation got a bit heated and he asked me are you gay? and I said yes. He then said oh good, I’m glad, I thought you weren’t getting any [laughs]. And now my partner and I getting married.

Congratulations, how are the arrangements going?
We want something different. We don’t want bridesmaids or grooms or flower girls and all that stuff. I have a wonderful minister and she can’t wait to officiate, she’s thrilled beyond beleif.

Bryan will be preforming his show at London's Crazy Coqs, Brasserie Zedel. Tickets cost £25 and are available online by clicking here, or by calling 020 7734 4888.

We've got more on Bryan Batt coming on Monday – look out!

Words Ben Walker, @benjwalker94

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