TV GUIDE ONLINE - 'Facts of Life' Alum's Gay Role
Date: Monday, March 19, 2001.

Though best known for playing little orphan Andy on The Facts of Life, Patty Duke son Mackenzie Astin, 27, is all grown up. "Second-generation show business people are quite lucky," he tells TV Guide Online. "There was a path taken before us and we could learn from our parents' mistakes, so we have a little bit of an advantage." A peek at Astin's filmography reveals co-starring roles with Shirley MacLaine in The Evening Star, ChloŽ Sevigny in The Last Days of Disco, and Jennifer Aniston in Dream for an Insomniac. It's true, none of these gigs have made Astin a full-fledged star ó but maybe that's a good thing. With less to lose, he's free to take riskier roles like Warren Harrison, a gay and actively dating lawyer on NBC's legal dramedy, First Years (debuting tonight at 9 pm/ET).

"I inherited from my mom the ability to spend egregious amounts of cash on ridiculous luxury items," Astin laughs. "Actors don't make as much money as people tend to think. [With this job], I was able to pay my rent and truly satisfy my artistic intentions." Intriguingly, he clearly doesn't intend to follow the usual ritual of reassuring everyone he's only acting gay for said pay. Which naturally begs the question: Is he or isn't he?

"I don't really have an answer for that," the actor teases. "I know no matter how I answer that question, it's going to change the way people look at the character. So I'm going to stay mysterious on that one. And the truth be told, you know, personally I'm not really sure!"

Wait, so Astin's saying he's unsure about his own orientation? "Yeah," he cheerfully concedes, then adds: "For a single twentysomething in Los Angeles, nobody knows what happens when I leave work. That's my business."

Well then, counselor, case respectfully closed. Funny thing is, a TV aficionado's far more burning question is likely to be whether Astin will appear in the long-rumored Facts reunion movie. "I keep hearing about that too," he laughs. "I hope it's not happening, because nobody's called me! If it does, I hope they do call." ó Daniel R. Coleridge

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