Out Actor Murray Bartlett Wins New Fans with 'The Last of Us' Role

Sunday February 19, 2023
Originally published on February 3, 2023

Murray Bartlett on "The Last of Us"
Murray Bartlett on "The Last of Us"  (Source:HBO)

LGBTQ+ viewers have been watching and appreciating out Aussie actor Murray Bartlett since his days in movies like "August" and gay-themed TV shows like "Looking" and "Tales of the City," not to mention his star turn in the first season of "The White Lotus" and his indelible performance in the Hulu limited series "Welcome to Chippendale's."

But now — thanks to his work on the latest episode of HBO's post-apocalyptic drama "The Last of Us," which centered on a poignant same-sex romance — the always-attractive Bartlett is attracting the attention of an even bigger fanbase. Suddenly, Bartlett's face is all over the internet; suddenly, magazines like Men's Health have taken notice.

The Australian hottie even made an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

The extra-long episode clocked in at an epic 80 minutes, most of which was devoted to the story of a survivalist named Bill (Nick Offerman) and his long-term life partner, Frank (Bartlett). The role required Bartlett to age over time, but also to take on a haggard look that wasn't entirely due to the show being set in a future where civilization has crumbled thanks to a pandemic. In the episode, Frank is terminally ill, and when he decides to exit his life with grace, his loving partner chooses to die with him.

It's the stuff of opera, but for Bartlett's real-life partner, the actor disclosed, it was also the stuff of nightmares. When the real-life couple watched the episode, Bartlett's partner was shaken.

"He turned to me at the end and was like, 'I don't want you to get sick,'" Bartlett told UK newspaper The Independent.

"So he really internalized it and obviously had trouble separating with the fact that he was watching me in a TV show, which I think is a good sign," Bartlett went on to say. "Not a good sign about me possibly getting sick as an old man, but the integrity of the work was powerful for him."

Bartlett has largely kept his private life out of the public eye, though he did give a shout out to his partner by name when he took an Emmy for his depiction of a resort manager caught in a self-destructive tailspin on "The White Lotus" — not an inconsiderable accomplishment for a role that allowed Murray to bring rimming to primetime.

"To my partner Matt, thank you for being my sanctuary," Bartlett said in a speech that included nods to "The White Lotus" creator Mike White as his "P-Town family."

In role after role, Bartlett's performances have drawn critical praise and viewer adoration, but the actor shared the spotlight, giving props to the show's makeup department. "Man, they just did such an extraordinary job," he told The Independent.