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Film and TV

Neil Patrick Harris was an ‘insecure’ teen growing up gay at the height of the AIDS crisis

Nick Duffy January 25, 2021
It's a Sin star Neil Patrick Harris as Henry Coltrane

It's a Sin star Neil Patrick Harris as Henry Coltrane. (Channel 4)

It’s a Sin star Neil Patrick Harris has opened up about growing up at a time of limited LGBT+ representation and coming to terms with his sexuality.

The out-and-proud actor made a short-lived turn in the Russell T Davies AIDS drama as Henry Coltrane, who serves as a mentor figure for the aspiring tailor Colin.

Speaking on companion show It’s a Sin: After Hours, Harris reflected on his own experiences, as one of the few cast members to have lived through the AIDS crisis.

The 47-year-old said: “I think it’s good to have examples of representation in various ways of all different types of ways of existing.

“I was born in the mid ’70s, so it was like the beginning of the internet when I was in my early teens. Internet porn was AOL dial up, it was a very strange and different time.

“There weren’t a lot of channels, there weren’t a lot of a lot of outlets. I had my own insecurities about coming out, and what how I would be reflected, what that would look like for me.

“So, I think the more representation there is, the better. And thank God we live in a time right now where there are TikTok channels and Instagram accounts to follow, and you can really live within other people’s worlds and see how they carry themselves.

“HIV/AIDS back then was also, as it’s depicted in the series, a very quiet thing. I don’t know if it was shameful or if it was scary, but people that I found out were positive and then passed from it, it all happened very quietly.”

Neil Patrick Harris in It's A Sin
Neil Patrick Harris in It’s A Sin. (Channel 4)

The actor came out as gay in 2006 while playing the womanizer Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother, making clear: “I am happy to dispel any rumours or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love.”

He married husband David Burtka in 2014, and the pair are parents to twins Gideon and Harper.

It’s a Sin star ‘jumped’ at chance to work with Russell T Davies

Neil Patrick Harris added that he was thrilled to be a part of the show, even though – spoiler alert – his character does not get to stick around for long.

He said: “Russell asked if I wanted to be a part of this, and I jumped at the opportunity to work with him, and to be involved in such an important story.

“To play someone who gets to have an interesting kind of quick trajectory, I thought was super exciting. Initially, when you see Henry, I wanted to make sure he felt a little like a villain  adversarial, judgey, prim and proper, and then to reveal that he is actually kind and represents a way of existing that Colin never knew could be possible.”

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