Irish gay actor Andrew Scott opens up about finding confidence to come out through early acting roles

“A lot of people within the industry were queer, so I was surrounded by them and then, bit by bit, started to feel confident.”

Still of gay actor Andrew Scott from All of Us Strangers. He is leaning over and smiling, looking at someone out of frame.
Image: Searchlight Pictures

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Irish actor Andrew Scott, who stars in the upcoming and highly-anticipated queer film All of Us Strangers opposite Paul Mescal, opened up about how his early acting roles gave him the courage and confidence to come out as gay. 

According to Scott, his journey as an actor began when he started taking elocution lessons in his youth to help him overcome what the actor refers to as a “really bad lisp”.

“Eventually it was speech and drama classes,” Scott told The New York Times. “I was so shy and terrified, but then someone would say, ‘Get up and do an improvisation,’ and some part of me felt…free.”

As a teenager, Andrew Scott recalls some of his first acting gigs involved being cast in gay roles, even though he was still closeted at the time. Through these early roles, Scott was introduced to the immense LGBTQ+ community that exists within acting circles. The Fleabag star reported that this sense of community eventually gave him the courage to come out. 

“A lot of people within the industry were queer, so I was surrounded by them and then, bit by bit, started to feel confident,” said Scott. 

The Dublin-born actor officially came out as gay in a 2013 interview with The Independent. At the time, he was preparing for a role in the BBC2 drama Legacy. Set during the Cold War, Scott portrays the character of Viktor Koslov, a KGB agent sent to Britain to work at the Russian Embassy. 

To prepare for the role, Scott recalled researching Russian accents by watching videos of Russian president, Vladimir Putin. 

“But then Putin introduced anti-gay legislation,” Scott told The Independent. “So, being a gay person, I switched to Rudolf Nureyev videos instead. It was another Nureyev defection of sorts!”

He continued: “Mercifully, these days people don’t see being gay as a character flaw.

“But nor is it a virtue, like kindness. Or a talent, like playing the banjo. It’s just a fact.

“Of course, it’s part of my make-up, but I don’t want to trade on it. I am a private person; I think that’s important if you’re an actor. But there’s a difference between privacy and secrecy, and I’m not a secretive person.

“Really I just want to get on with my job, which is to pretend to be lots of different people. Simple as that.”

Since then, Scott has made a name for himself following successful roles in series like Sherlock and films like Handsome Devil

The actor told The New York Times: “I’m happy to be able to say that to be emancipated from shame has been genuinely the biggest achievement of my life.

“For a long time, I have felt very comfortable with myself, but it doesn’t take much to go back there — something a taxi driver can say can still wound you. If he might say, ‘You’ve got a wife?’ You could go, ‘No, I don’t,’ or is that sort of a lie by omission?”


In the run-up to his upcoming film All of Us Strangers, Scott reflected on how he had to “undo” a lot of the personal progress he’d made in the way of self-acceptance and “go back to that place where you feel frightened,” in order to do the role justice. 

In the film, Andrew Scott portrays the character of Adam, a quiet gay screenwriter who develops a romantic relationship with his neighbour, Harry, played by Paul Mescal. 

Just as Adam and Harry start to explore their newfound romance, Adam is drawn back into his old family home, where he encounters the ghosts of his late parents, portrayed by Claire Foy and Jamie Bell. 

Adam uses the fleeting connection with his late parents to finally come out to them, a feat that requires Adam to overcome the fear and shame that he has held onto for decades. 

“To make something like [All of Us Strangers], it moves me, because I never thought that I’d get a chance to expose myself so much in a film like this or for it to be in such a trusting environment with such brilliant colleagues,” said Scott. 

The actor similarly spoke on the on-screen connection he has forged with his co-star, Mescal, saying: “People have talked an awful lot about the chemistry and the sex between our characters, but actually what I think is really radical and affecting about the relationship is how affectionate and tender they are with each other.

“It’s such a beautiful thing to play, isn’t it? Just real care.”

Mescal, who was also present for the recent New York Times interview, agreed, saying: “I find it healing to watch that kind of emotional intimacy. I remember being surprised when we watched it for the first time, because I didn’t remember being so close to your face when we were talking, how we were totally taking each other in. 

“There’s a weird thing that I don’t think you can cheat: You know how when somebody you love is talking to you, and you look at their lips? It’s like, Jesus, I can’t remember doing that,” Mescal concluded. 

All of Us Strangers is set to debut at Irish cinemas on January 26, 2024.

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