Bryan Batt Press - OUT 100
Out Magazine
OUT Magazine, December 2007/January 2008

OUT 100: The Men & Women Who Made 2007 a Year to Remember

BRYAN BATT - ARTIST OF THE YEAR

Best known for creating the role of Darius, the hapless Cats chorus boy in Paul Rudnick’s Jeffrey, Bryan Batt seems to have found another dream role in Salvatore Romano, the closeted art director on AMC’s critically acclaimed 1960s-era drama series Mad Men. Ironically, the actor has spent nearly the entirety of his 20-year professional career out of the closet. “Right after I filmed Jeffrey, a very renowned TV producer told me that he didn’t believe an out gay man could work or be a credible leading man to American audiences,” Batt remembers. “I wanted to work and be happy in my life, so I couldn’t and wouldn’t live a lie.”

Batt has great faith in where series creator Matt Weiner, the former Sopranos writer and executive producer, is taking his character. "He told me he was looking for a gay American actor to play this role and that he wasn't interested in someone 'playing gay.' All I want for my character is more juicy controversy. What I love about Matt's writing is that you can never really guess what is going to happen, and I know he has great ideas for Sal's journey."

Currently Batt is tricoastal, maintaining homes in New York, Los Angeles, and his hometown, New Orleans, where he runs Hazelnut, an interior design shop, with his partner of 19 years, Tom Cianfichi. Earlier this year, the Louisiana chapter of the Human Rights Campaign honored him for his tireless work organizing, hosting, and performing at dozens of disaster relief fund-raisers and his work with the NO/AIDS Task Force.

As a Broadway veteran who's relatively new to TV, Batt has measured enthusiasm for the medium. "I think the treatment of gay men and women on television has gotten better with shows like Will & Grace, Six Feet Under, and of course just the mere existence of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but sitcoms and talk shows can still be degrading," he says. "When the punch line is simply that someone is gay, I don't laugh. There is too much emphasis on who people do rather than what they do. Are you talented? Are you kind? Do you love Tom Ford and musical theater? Those are the important questions." BILL KEITH

Artist of the Year
Bryan Batt
Photographed by Danielle St. Laurent at Quixote Studios
in Los Angeles on August 14, 2007