‘Coastal Elites’ Star Dan Levy Recalls When Auditions Asked Him To ‘up the Gay’

If you’re missing Schitt’s Creek (and really, who’s not?), HBO has a chance to see Dan Levy in a new special presentation. Coastal Elites stars Levy, Bette Midler, Sarah Paulson, Issa Rae and Kaitlyn Dever. Each actor plays a character giving a monologue about the current state of the world, politics and social issues. 

Coastal Elites: Dan Levy
Dan Levy | HBO

Levy’s character, Mark Hesterman, is an actor. His latest audition for the role of a gay superhero could be a big break for him. Hesterman video chats with his therapist and the audience hears his thoughts on being a gay actor. Levy spoke about the role on a Television Critics Association panel in August. Coastal Elites premiers on HBO Saturday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m.

Dan Levy had to adjust to the long monologue of ‘Coastal Elites’

Each segment of Coastal Elites is just the actor in front of a screen speaking for the duration. That was quite an adjustment from Schitt’s Creek for Levy.

Dan Levy - Schitt's Creek
Dan Levy | Pop! TV

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“I had never done monologue work outside of high school theatre,” Levy said. “I just thought that the monologues were so interesting, and revelatory. Everything was kind of unexpected, and every character that you had an impression of off the top ended up revealing things that were so surprising, and funny, and heartbreaking that it was just such a thrill. So, it wasn’t until learning those lines that I realized the process of actually learning a monologue was quite difficult.”

‘Coastal Elites’ brought back old audition traumas

Before creating Schitt’s Creek, Levy was a jobbing actor like anyone else. Being out, Levy recalled some auditions for gay characters that were rather insensitive.

Dan Levy and Noah Reid
L-R: Dan Levy and Noah Reid on Schitt’s Creek | Pop! TV

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“The catharsis for me, I guess, was just learning it and then figuring out where the acting happens,” Levy said. “I think for my character, there was such a fine line between his experiences and my own, having walked into many a casting session being told to kind of ‘up the gay,’ if you will. So, it was really significant for me to sort of go through that as an actor, because it was having to kind of mind my own experiences, in order to sort of bring them into his.”

It was nice for Dan Levy not to have to write and produce

Levy created Schitt’s Creek and was the show’s head writer. One aspect of Coastal Elites that was easier was he only had to perform writer Paul Rudnick’s words.

“I like it when it’s mine, but I really like it when I can walk into someone else’s world and just focus on that one thing,” Levy said. “It’s a lovely thing to just only focus on one thing.  I’m sure Issa can speak to that, as well, having had your hands in a bunch of different pots on your show.  But yeah, no, it was very refreshing and great to just sit down and focus on the lines.”