dishin' it

Harvey Guillén talks scary movies, Britney, and shares a peek at his favorite Halloween costume ever

Photo Credit: Irvin Rivera

Harvey Guillén is having quite the year, and we are living for it.

The queer actor has long been the beating heart (literally) of FX’s hit vampire comedy, What We Do In The Shadows. His character, Guillermo, is the human “familiar” to a group of blood-suckers—but he not-so-secretly wants to be a vampire himself.

And while that dream has yet to come true, Guillermo did take one major step toward living the life of his dreams in the show’s most recent season: He came out as gay! It was a surprising and welcome development for the series that Guillén has called both “therapeutic and nostalgic.”

But it’s not just What We Do In The Shadows that we love Guillén in—this guy books! In this year alone, he’s shown up on Amazon’s Reacher, and done voice work for Human Resources, Puss In Boots: The Last Wish, and on Harley Quinn as the hero Nightwing (which he jokes he was type-cast in because of his bubble butt).

Related: Gay Christmas is coming: All the spooky queer entertainment to look forward to this Halloween season

And, as of this weekend, he can be seen in Comedy Central’s hilarious new horror movie Cursed Friends, opposite Nicole Byer and other gay icons like Kathy Griffin and Nicole Richie. Aside from the chance to work with such an amazing cast, Guillén shares he was thrilled for the opportunity to play a queer character who is “carefree and living his best life.” Well, except for the fact that he’s been cursed by a childhood game of M.A.S.H…

The arrival of Cursed Friends was the perfect opportunity for Queerty to catch up with Guillén and have him as a guest in our rapid-fire Q&A series, Dishin’ It. In our free-wheeling conversation, the actor touches on everything from gay stereotypes to the rom-com BFF of his dreams to the musician who helped him come into his queerness as a teen.

What’s the gayest thing about you?

Well, I guess it depends who you ask! [Laughs.] But I do take pride in—and I know this is such a stereotype, but—loving fashion. And if that’s a stereotype people want to pin on me, I will gladly accept it! Or, a close second for me is the stereotype that people always like to say: Gay people love musical theater. And I do, I really do. I love musical theater. So, yes, I am a proud musical theater fashionista!


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What’s your favorite Halloween costume you’ve ever worn and why?

So, there are a couple of costumes that I’ve done that I’ve really enjoyed. There are two, and in both settings I convinced a group of friends to do these. One was the Charlie Brown Peanuts gang, where I was Charlie Brown, and then we had every man character from [the comics].

And the other one we did, as gender-benders, was the cast of the movie Hairspray. I was Tracy Turnblad! There are definitely photos online. It was for Halloweenie, which is still the biggest queer Halloween party in L.A. So, the costumes were for that, and we walked the carpet and everything. My friend Jason was Edna, I was Tracy—in, like, full costume, down to the plaid skirt, the white shirt with a little bow in the front, and the big bouffant hair with the little blue bow in the middle. And we were very much in character—lucky enough that it was a group of actors, so everyone understood the assignment.

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Is there a piece of pop-culture—whether a movie, TV series, book, album, etc…—that you consider a big part of your coming-out journey? Why does it stand out to you?

The memory that stands out to me was: My friend Tyler and I had taken so summer classes, and so every morning that summer after the Britney Spears album came out, we would listen to it in the car on the way to school. And then we’d not talk about the CD the whole day until we got back in the car. [Laughs.]

And that was what signified to us like, “Oh yeah, we’re queer!” Like, this was the anthem, we loved this, but it was only in the safety net of the car. We just loved her, we talked about her nonstop, and then we got to school and [neither of us] mentioned it at all. But then we’d go back in the car and it was our guilty pleasure.

We were still coming into our own queerness, into being honest with who we were. But I remember that so vividly. It was the Summer Of Britney!

In Cursed Friends, your character is haunted by a childhood game of M.A.S.H. Is there a trend or fashion style or something along those lines from your childhood that still haunts you to this day?

I was trying to think if there were similar games I played as a child that traumatized me. [Laughs.] But, honestly, I’m still traumatized by the choices I made playing Pogs! I remember I lost all of my best Power Rangers Pogs and, to this day, it haunts me that I don’t where those Pogs are now, I don’t know who has them, but—where you are—I’ll find you! [Laughs.]


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Who is a queer or trans artist/performer/creator that you think is doing really cool work right now? Why are they someone we should all be paying attention to?

You know, it’s so funny to think that, a couple years ago, that list might have been very narrow, very small. And the fact that I have to think about this question for a second—because I’m in awe of so many queer artists in the entertainment industry—it’s amazing!

I mean, Billy Eichner is doing great work, putting queer people and storylines in the big rom-com that he just released! Everyone should go see and support Bros and a creator like that, because he’s amplifying our voices. Just go see it—if you have questions about it or anything, you can talk about it later, but just go see it first.We have to watch it now, we have to amplify these voices and make sure the message is clear that people want to watch stories like this.

And then there’s Lil Nas X, who is always pushing the envelope, speaking his mind, and I admire and respect that. These aren’t artists that are doing it to get accolades, but they’re doing it to tell stories, to send a message. And, in return, they’re changing history.


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What We Do In The Shadows’ Guillermo—who is one of our favorite gay characters on TV right now—has long wanted to be a vampire. In your opinion, what’s the biggest benefit to being a vampire?

Oh, I think the the flying—who doesn’t want to fly? People have spent their whole lives trying to figure out how to fly, and sure we have airplanes and hot air balloons and whatnot. But wouldn’t it just be cool for you, yourself, to fly? For your body to lift and levitate off the floor? I think that’s the most appealing. I’m not so big on the blood-drinking. [Laughs.] Same with immortality—I mean, watching all your loved ones die? So, yeah, flying is my thing.

What would you say is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen? What makes it so terrifying?

Well, when I was little, the most terrifying movie I ever saw was Chucky. And I should not have seen it then—it was at my cousin’s house—and I was probably around five! My cousins were a little older and they were like, “We’re going to watch Chucky! You can’t watch it, it’s too scary and you’re a little kid.” And I was like, “I’m not a little kid, it’s not too scary.” I lied and told them I already saw it, so I watched it with them. And I was traumatized.

I was having nightmares for weeks. I thought the dolls in my room were all Chucky. And my mom didn’t understand, but I couldn’t tell her that I saw the movie or I’d get in trouble!  But she was like, “What is wrong with you? Why are you so jumpy?” Poor Mom. I was so scared. I think, eventually, my mom found out and told her. But I was so scared by it for such a long time.

Recently a tweet went viral that said, “Let Harvey Guillén be the lead in a queer rom com.” One of the most important part of any rom-com are the BFF characters, so—with that in mind—who would you cast to play yours and why?

Well, you know, there’s a giant list of people who’d fit that role really perfectly. But, to bring it back to Cursed Friends, I just love Nicole Byer. Nicole and I mesh so well together. She’s a great person to be around. I could go off book with her forever—which we did on set, and got in trouble. [Laughs.] But I’m happy to report they used like 50% of that stuff, so we just let the camera roll.

And, in the rom-com, she’d be the person that tells me, like “Come on, do it! Go for it!” We all need that hype-man, hype-woman, or hype-person in our lives, and I think Nicole is the best person for that.


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A post shared by Harvey Guillen (@harveyguillen)

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