Charlie Barnett

If humility were a sin, actor Charlie Barnett would be one of the naughtiest actors in Hollywood. 

At 36 years old, his career encompasses some of the biggest hits on screen in recent memory. From portraying a prison officer’s love interest in Orange is the New Black to navigating a time loop alongside Natasha Lyonne in Russian Doll (taking the spotlight in the season finale) and embodying a successful acupuncturist with a penchant for psychedelics in You, Barnett has showcased a versatility applauded by audiences.

Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the gay gem that is Tales of the City and the series that made him famous, Chicago Fire, where he played the beloved firefighter Peter Mills. 

“[The show] was a behemoth that I never really saw coming,” he told People. “I was thankful to be a part of it. I really was sad to be let go. It broke me for quite a long time.” 

But as life typically happens for those who work for it, Barnett’s dismissal from the show in 2015 turned out to be a blessing in disguise, opening the doors of opportunity. 

Yet, instead of concerning himself with climbing the ladder of stardom, Barnett has made sure to keep his feet firmly grounded. “The idea of losing myself in my career is something I often contemplate,” he shared with Imagista. “Anything that brings me back to a place of realization helps me maintain balance.”

Adoptive parents raised Barnett in Sarasota, Florida, whom he described as a “gift” and expressed looking up to them in an “eclectic way.” His zest for life and acting comes from not taking anything for granted, which is palpable in every role he personifies, no matter how big or small. 

But most impressive of all is that Barnett has been turning heads solely with his supporting roles.

As the saying goes, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” You can expect him to always be huge.

Just as Jennifer Coolidge has wielded comedy to steal scenes from protagonists, the gay star merges his authenticity and knack for raw emotions with fiction. But his portfolio of supporting characters is anything but a one-trick pony.

The actor has proven he can do it all, yet his limelight feels like he is just getting started. 

Perhaps his most ambitious supporting role to date is finally getting seen, as he he stars in Disney+’s latest Star Wars series, The Acolyte

The actor has stayed relatively mum’ on his role, but his character is Yord Fandar, a Jedi Knight taking place “in an era just behind the end of the stories of the High Republic, about 100 years out.”

Audiences can expect Barnett to milk every second afforded to him, while his shirtless scene in the premiere episode has definitely gotten a lot of attention.

Despite his consistent modesty and kindness, Barnett has managed to break quite a few hearts. More specifically, he made his relationship with set designer Drew Binder official on Instagram in 2019, and later, they announced their engagement in 2022 with plans to marry in Wyoming. 

“I worked on a ranch for many summers while I was at school at Juilliard,” Barnett explained to Page Six about their chosen location. “It was a nice outlet from doing all this mental work, and I just needed to do something physical — build a fence, wrangle.”

In other words, the Brokeback Mountain-themed wedding of every gay man’s dreams. 

Ultimately, in an industry that often limits queer people to supporting roles, the actor is an emblem that greatness is within reach if you stay the course and make the most of every moment.

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