TV & Movies

Here’s What The Original US Queer As Folk Cast Is Doing Now

The groundbreaking series inspired Peacock’s reboot featuring all new stars.

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Randy Harrison, Gale Harold and Hal Sparks (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
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Premiering in 2000, Showtime’s Queer as Folk broke ground as the first hourlong American TV drama centered on LGBTQ+ characters. Based on creator Russell T. Davies’ original British series, which debuted one year earlier, the U.S. version was still viewed by some as a major gamble before it went into production. “My agent and manager at the time presented this script to me like they were wearing hazmat suits. ‘It’s a hit in England. I don’t know. We don’t recommend it, but you get mad if we don’t let you read stuff,’” Hal Sparks, who played Michael Novotny, recalled in Entertainment Weekly’s 2018 Queer as Folk cast reunion interview. “I’m no longer with them.”

After seeing “a good bit of the original on VHS,” Randy Harrison (Justin Taylor) remembered his first reaction: “There’s no way they’re going to do this in the United States,” he added.

In the end, the trailblazing U.S. drama went on to run for 83 episodes across five seasons, before taking a final bow in 2005. In the years that followed, the series still remained a seminal work in the forward momentum toward mainstream LGBTQ+ representation on TV. “God knows the clothes and the hairstyles have changed, but the emotional stories are eternal,” Peter Paige (Emmett Honeycutt) added to EW. “I often say people came for the queer, but they stayed for the folk.”

Now, Peacock is reimagining Queer as Folk once again for a 2022 New Orleans-set reboot, featuring an entirely new cast, which includes Kim Cattrall. If that has you feeling nostalgic, here’s what the original U.S. Queer as Folk cast has been doing in the nearly 17 years since the Showtime series finale.

Gale Harold (Brian Kinney)

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At some point during his five seasons as Brian, Harold, who’s now 52, became one with the character. “It was nice to hear that it was being received and people were engaging with what we were doing, but suddenly I wasn’t even myself anymore because I’d become [Brian],” he explained to EW in 2018, remembering the experience as being exciting, gratifying, but “f*cking scary.” After the series wrapped, he appeared in such TV series as Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, and Kiss Me, Kill Me. In 2022, he was also announced as an executive producer on Sofia Coppola’s Fairyland adaptation, starring Geena Davis, Adam Lambert, and Cody Fern.

Randy Harrison (Justin Taylor)

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As a teenager coming to terms with his own sexuality, Harrison was hungry for media that reflected his experience, and so he signed on to play Justin in order to “be a part of gay representation on television.” Having accomplished that in the Showtime series, the 44-year-old’s post-QAF projects included several stage roles, including in Broadway’s Wicked, in addition to appearances in Mr. Robot and Such Good People. Along with fellow actor Jordan Barbour, he now hosts a podcast called QueerAnon with Mister Sister, during which they “take a deep dive into pop culture, politics, and the absurdity of the modern age.”

Hal Sparks (Michael Novotny)

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Following post-QAF roles in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Tak & the Power of Juju, and Disney Channel’s Lab Rats, Sparks continued to hone his other creative skills by directing, writing, and performing music, including with his band, Zero 1, as well as stand-up comedy for audiences nationwide. On Instagram, he recently promoted a May 2022 comedy set at San Diego’s The Laugh Factory. Following guest stints on Grey’s Anatomy and Fuller House in recent years, a now-long-haired Sparks also reminded everyone in the caption of a May 3 Instagram workout selfie that he’ll be turning “53 in a few months.”

Peter Paige (Emmett Honeycutt)

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Despite his roles in Grey’s Anatomy, CSI: Miami, Bones, and American Dad!, among other series, over the years, Paige’s Twitter bio describes him as an actor in the past tense. Now, he’s the creator and executive producer of two Freeform series, The Fosters and Good Trouble, in addition to producing and directing ABC’s Station 19. Currently 52 years old, Paige also wrote and directed Freeform’s 2020 LGBTQ+ rom-com, The Thing About Harry.

Scott Lowell (Ted Schmidt)

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Lowell credited his turns as Ted with making him “a better heterosexual in a lot of ways” by helping him open up and be vulnerable. Since starring in QAF, the 57-year-old actor, who now splits his time between Los Angeles and Brooklyn, has appeared in a number of independent films and TV series, including The Fosters, CSI, Castle, and Bones. After making his Broadway and West End debuts in the 2014-2015 revival of The Elephant Man, alongside Bradley Cooper and Patricia Clarkson, Lowell also wrote, produced, and starred in a semi-autobiographical web comedy series called Adoptable, a project that reunited him with QAF co-star Sharon Gless (Debbie Novotny).

Thea Gill (Lindsay Peterson)

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In the 2018 EW reunion interview, Gill, now 52, explained her belief that the “the sexuality — and the honesty of that sexuality — propelled [the cast] throughout the whole series.” After filming, which took place in Toronto, wrapped in 2005, she’s acted in various stage productions, as well as TV series, including Dante’s Cove, Ghost Whisperer, and Castle, and such Lifetime movies as The Boy She Met Online. Gill, who’s married to author Gina Glass, also played Greta Gerwig’s mom in 2016’s 20th Century Women and posts original music on SoundCloud.

Michelle Clunie (Melanie Marcus)

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Clunie, who went on to play roles in Make It or Break It, NCIS, and as Teen Wolf’s Mrs. Finch, among others, shared with EW that QAF producers held meetings with her and her co-stars to prepare them for “hate mail and threats.” In 2015, the LGBTQ+ activist, who’s now 52 years old, took on a new role as mother to a son named Dashiell, whom she shares with close friend and out X-Men director Bryan Singer. She hasn’t given too many glances at family life, however, as her Instagram is currently set to private.

Robert Gant (Ben Bruckner)

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Among the 53-year-old’s many acting credits since his QAF days are stints on Personal Affairs, Supergirl, The Young and the Restless, The Fosters, Good Trouble, and 13 Reasons Why. Off-screen, Gant also works as a gay life coach who encourages each client to live their “best gay life.” A 60-minute introductory online session costs $200, and program participants can expect to confront the “often unseen after effects that persist long after one has ‘come out,’” per Gant’s website.

Sharon Gless (Debbie Novotny)

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When her time as QAF’s resident PFLAG mom Debbie ended, the Cagney & Lacey alum, now 79, went on to have recurring roles in such series as Nip/Tuck, Burn Notice, The Exorcist, and Casualty. In December 2021, Gless released her memoir, Apparently There Were Complaints, which covers such topics as her complicated family, struggles with alcoholism, and fear of romantic commitment, plus her A-list encounters over the course of her five-decade Hollywood career. Married to Cagney & Lacey producer Barney Rosenzweig since 1991, Gless divides her time between Los Angeles and Miami’s Fisher Island, according to her Simon & Schuster author bio.

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