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Ben Platt on Coming Out and the Queerness of ‘The Politician’

Ben Platt never imagined he would one day star in a series like “The Politician.”

“I didn’t think I could be a star of a show in general starting out. I think I was like, ‘I’ll do Broadway. I can be on stage and I can play Jimmy in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and Nathan Detroit [in “Guys and Dolls”] and that’ll be that,’” Platt says on this week’s episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast “The Big Ticket.” “I’d still like to do those things, but I think as life has progressed, my view of what’s possible has just grown and grown and grown.”

I sat down with Platt recently at New York’s 92nd Street Y, where he was appearing in conversation with his “Politician” co-star Judith Light.

In “The Politician,” co-created by Ryan Murphy, Platt plays a scheming high school senior running for class president. It’s all part of his lifelong goal to become president of the United States. Murphy’s latest creation is a true rainbow of diversity with a cast and group of characters representing a spectrum of sexualities, genders, races and physical abilities.

Platt says Murphy’s “Glee” was “so formative” for him during his high school years. The characters were “incredibly revolutionary particularly as far as queerness was concerned,” he said.

“The Politician” is the natural next step in representation with even more queerness and fluidity. “No one is free from the queerness, really, on the show,” Platt said.

Platt is one of the rare actors who came out as gay early in his career. “There was never like a gung-ho of ‘Let’s come out as soon as possible’ because no matter how forward-thinking we all get, it becomes an obstacle a little bit in the case of auditioning, producers and casting and directors,” he said. “Hopefully we’re moving a bit beyond that.”

Platt came out publicly in February with the release of the music video for his song “Ease My Mind” from his album “Sing to Me Instead.” It features Charlie Carver playing his love interest. “It was really a conscious decision. You know, I’m going to be public about this, [but] to go in and edit my relationship seemed silly for no reason,” Platt said. “I don’t think I realized the gravity of it until it was out and I was seeing people’s reaction  to it.”

Season 2 of “The Politician” starts filming in a couple of weeks.

And Platt knows some of what he’ll be doing over the next 18 years. He and his best friend Beanie Feldstein are starring in Richard Linklater’s adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Merrily We Go Along,” which will be shot over two decades. “We shot our first scene, which takes place in 1957 this summer,” said Platt, who earned a Tony for his work in “Dear Evan Hansen.” “The next scene is in 1959 or ’60 so we’ll wait two or three years to shoot the scene and so on.”

Among the other musical movies he wouldn’t mind being a part of? “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Company,” Parade” and, of course, “Dear Evan Hanson.”

And then there’s “Sunday in the Park With George.” “There’s no rush for that one,” Platt said. “Even if I did it in my apartment, I would make it happen.”

What movie recently brought Platt to tears? And speaking of crying, how does he do it so convincingly on camera? Find out by listening to the full episode of “The Big Ticket” below. You can also find “The Big Ticket” at iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

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