Billy Porter almost had a starring role on Queer As Folk


billy porter queer as folk peter paige will and grace pose
Images: Netflix, Showtime

Pose star Billy Porter almost played Emmett on Queer As Folk, according to Peter Paige, the actor who got the role.

Queer as Folk stars Peter Paige and Scott Lowell recently chatted about the groundbreaking gay series on podcast Hot Takes and Deep Dives.

Paige, who played Emmett Honeycutt, revealed the cast almost looked very different.

He recalled he was up against two other actors for the part — one of them being actor Billy Porter (above left).

Paige beat out the other actors and went onto play Emmett on the show’s five seasons from 2000 to 2005.

At a Queer as Folk premiere event, Porter later confronted Paige about his portrayal of the character.

“He came to the premiere. He hunted me down at the reception and said, ‘Now I know why I didn’t get the job. I’m not kidding,'” Paige said.

“‘I could not do what you did with that role. I mean every word of it. That was incredible, I’m so proud of you.’

“It was the classiest thing. I will never forget it. I learned so much that day from Billy Porter.”

Billy Porter was a theatre star at the time, and would go on to win a Tony for playing Lola in Kinky Boots on Broadway in 2013.

In 2018, Porter starred in the FX show Pose as drag ballroom MC Pray Tell.

Queer As Folk star lost Will & Grace role to Sean Hayes

Meanwhile, Peter Paige also shared that another trailblazing queer television show would have been different, too: Will & Grace.

In his interview, Paige also revealed that before he was cast on Queer as Folk, he almost played Jack McFarland on the NBC sitcom.

The role went on to make fellow out actor Sean Hayes a star.

“There were other people in the mix when I auditioned,” Paige recalled.

“[The producers] said to me, and I quote, ‘You’re fantastic. We are taking a guy tomorrow to network, we will not take you up against him, if he doesn’t get the job we will take you.’

“He was their choice, but if he had not gone I was the next choice.”

Unfortunately, Paige said, for a time afterwards he lost “multiple jobs” because casting directors thought he was too similar to Sean Hayes.

He said wondered, “’Is my career going to be the guy who almost got Will & Grace?’ Then Queer as Folk came along.”

Listen to the whole chat below:

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