Pictured: Michael Urie and Ryan Spahn
Michael Urie had a very successful run playing Mode magazine’s resident scheme queen, Marc St. James on Ugly Betty, as well as more recent stints on Partners, The Good Wife, and Modern Family. He also had a huge success with the one-man show Buyer & Cellar, which he took on tour after he completed his New York City stint.
Lately, however, his career has taken the entertainer to Hell and back. Literally. For his latest project, Urie gets behind the camera to direct What’s Your Emergency, a comedy series that follows the hapless staff of a fictional 9-1-1 call center in (the not-at-all-fictional) town of Hell, Michigan.
Now that the first season has wrapped and can be viewed online (available here), we caught up with the actor/director for our latest, hellish round of 10 questions:
1. Have you had a travel experience from Hell?
No, Ryan Spahn and I did once travel to Hell, Michigan, which is where What’s Your Emergency takes place. It's a helluva town!
2. Emergency landing: nervous wreck or nerves of steel?
Hard to say. I know I'm an emotional wreck on airplanes for some reason (I cried at the Katy Perry movie on a plane, so you can imagine how useless I was when I watched Boyhood in-flight) — but I'd like to think in a real emergency, I'd be calm and/or heroic.
3. You're on a road trip to Hell, what are the only three songs on the radio?
AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" (duh), "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing" by Chris Isaak, and "Looks Like We Made It" by Barry Manilow, for a little variety.
4. On a Hell Airlines flight to the South Pole, you'd be stuck in the middle seat between....?
Santa and Mrs. Claus. (They like to go south for the summer, to give the reindeer some time off.)
5. What one thing would ruin your trip if you forgot to pack it?
Passport for international travel, goggles if I'm going somewhere with a pool.
6. Has traveling with someone ever ended your relationship?
Not right away...
7. Donna Summer's "I Will Survive," ABBA's "S.O.S.", or Madonna's "Rescue Me"?
"S.O.S." ABBA will always win.
8. Switching gears: any place you visited you thought you'd hate but turned out to like?
Cleveland! I attended the Film Festival there for our film Grantham & Rose, and I had the most wonderful time. The festival was terrific, the people were lovely, and the food was great. Cleveland rocks! (Here I am at the West Side Market in Cleveland.)
9. Best travel memory?
My summer in (and around) Scotland. We shot Decoy Bride on the Isle of Man and all over Scotland, then I spent a month in Edinburgh performing Celebrity Autobiography in the Fringe Festival. Weekend trips to London and Amsterdam: It was a helluva summer.
10. What's your next adventure?
Off to London in two weeks to perform Buyer & Cellar at the Menier Chocolate Factory. I love London and cannot wait to work there (and find time to play).
Luckily, audiences won’t need to wait for someone to tell you to go to Hell, the first season of What’s Your Emergency, directed by Michael Urie and starring Ryan Spahn, Halley Feiffer, Reed Birney, Sierra Boggess, Debra Monk, Kevin Covert, Daoud Heidami, René Houtrides, Sekou Laidlow, Erin McCarson, and Mckean Rand is out now.
Watch the trailer below, which is much easier than chartering a hand-basket anyway.