Russell Tovey: 'Being gay is the best thing that ever happened to me'
Russell Tovey's career has been one of two halves. After making his name playing laddy straight boys in everything from films like The History Boys to TV drama Being Human and Him & Her, the last few years have been defined by high profile gay roles in Looking, The Pass, and the upcoming London stage revival of Angels in America at the National Theatre.
"I always felt like it had to be a role that moved things forward if I was going to do it," Tovey told the London Evening Standard this week as he hit the promotional trail for The Pass, which finally hits UK cinemas next month (December 9).
The eagerly-anticipated movie adaptation of John Donnelly’s critically-acclaimed play sees Tovey star as Jason, a Premier League footballer wrestling with his sexuality, in a role first portrayed on stage back in 2014.
"I think growing up I absolutely tried to become hyper-masculine," Tovey said. "I think when I was younger I was a lot freer. So I related a lot of that side to Jason, to his pretence."
The 37-year-old attracted criticism in early 2015 after making some ill-conceived comments about gay male effeminacy, or his lack thereof, but despite trying to put on macho airs growing up, Tovey says he never struggled with his actual sexuality.
"I was never tortured about being gay in the way that Jason is" he explained, adding that a moment of realisation came at the age of 14.
"I was watching the film Beautiful Thing on TV. My mum came in and I turned it off and when she went to bed I turned it back on. I remember thinking 'OK, that's it'.
"It's like someone had put their hand on mine and said 'there you go'. It's a love story with a happy ending. It's good to have role models and now there are many more."
For Tovey fans hoping for their own Notting Hill-style romance with the loveable Essex boys, there's good and bad news: While he admits he's never dated anybody "in the business", he is currently seeing someone, although it's "very early days".
If all goes right, however, then marriage would certainly be on the card in the future.
"Totally, 100 per cent I will do it, when the time is right," he revealed.
Tovey is currently starring in US crime drama Quantico, which has provided fans with plenty more glimpses at his gym-toned body, but he'll soon be returning to London to star in the National Theatre's production of AIDS epic Angels in America next year, playing a "repressed homosexual" Mormon.
"Honestly, it's the best thing that ever happened to me, being gay," Tovey said when discussing the new role. "It's made my career."
The Pass is set to hit UK cinemas on December 9.
More stories:17 reasons to love birthday boy Russell ToveyIs this the hottest picture of Russell Tovey ever?