‘Being gay was still relatively new and, truthfully, the gay premise of the show scared the hell out of me,’ David Moretti says.
“Yaw goin’ to Hawllywood?! Nuttin’ but loonies out theeeeah,” remarked neighbors to the news that local golden boy David Moretti was considering a move out west. But that didn’t stop the young star of HERE-TV’s sexy, vampire series “The Lair,” now airing on-demand, from following his dreams. He knew he had to leave the complacent, conservative bubble that was his hometown of Cranston, R.I. He had bigger plans.
“When you are little you think Hollywood is going to look like Oz or something,” Moretti explains in his new, polished accent. At acting school, the first thing his coach told him was to lose the country twang. Except for a few rather sexy remnants, he has. “When you get here you see hookers on street corners and more tour buses than Bentleys.”
For a town built on glitter and fantasy, Hollywood’s gritty reality is among its biggest secrets. It’s something Moretti can relate to — beneath his own polished exterior have lurked secrets of his own. A few years ago, he was forced to confront the biggest one.
After a summer internship in Los Angeles, Moretti transferred from Boston College — where he played drums in the marching band — to the University of Southern California. At USC he majored in English with a minor in film and belonged to the Delta Chi fraternity.
His life changed forever when a fraternity brother spotted his picture — hat pulled low to obscure his face — on a networking site where he had identified himself as gay. The frat brother, who was openly gay, took it upon himself to out Moretti by forwarding the profile to the entire fraternity class.
“What followed was one of the worst periods of my life,” remembers Moretti. He broke up with his college girlfriend, was forced to admit the truth to his friends and family, and ultimately had to face himself.
“I was freaking out,” he says. “It forced me deeper into the closet. Eventually, however, I began to pick up the pieces and I made new gay friends and found my first boyfriend.”
Shortly thereafter, he came upon the audition notice for “The Lair.”
“To say I was initially reluctant to go to the casting is an understatement,” he admits. “Being gay was still relatively new and, truthfully, the gay premise of the show scared the hell out of me. I must have gone back and forth a hundred times on whether or not I should apply for the job.”
Ultimately, he decided to give the audition a shot.
“I emailed my photo and resumé and waited by my phone. When it didn’t ring, I figured the resumé must have gotten lost in cyberspace,” he laughs, “so I emailed them another one.”
The second time was the charm. The show’s casting agent couriered Moretti a 50-page script of the show’s pilot and gave him a mere two days to prepare for the audition. “There was no way I could realistically prepare so I read the script once and headed to the studio.”
‘I actually respect the person I see in the mirror,’ Moretti says proudly.
He auditioned with the CEO of HERE-TV, Paul Colichman. “Auditioning in front of the man who owned the network was extremely intimidating, but sometimes the best performances are the ones you don’t have time to allow yourself to stress about.” He played it cool and 24 hours later was offered the role of investigative reporter “Thom.” That’s when the real stress began.
“What had I done? What was this going to mean for my career? Was I ready to come out as a gay man?” he wondered. And, in addition to the overt gay theme, he had to consider the bold sexual element of the the series. “Was I really prepared to show my bare ass to the world?”
He explains, “I’m a pretty conservative guy and I had just come out to my folks.” It was one thing for them to hear their son is gay, but were they ready to see him in sexual encounters? “The show would be broadcast in living rooms across America, including my grandmother’s. It was a lot to consider.”
Moretti called everyone he knew in the industry to ask whether taking the role would be the beginning or end of his career. Reaction was split. His manager told him it would be career suicide and other Hollywood insiders agreed that he would lose mainstream opportunities.
But one closeted actor friend — whom Moretti prefers not to name — was perhaps the most frank of all. Referring to the widely held Hollywood notion of 25 being over-the-hill, he said, “You’re 26 and you’re not the new lead on ‘ER.’ This is your chance to take on a controversial role. Controversy has launched the careers of plenty of Hollywood actors.”
Moretti decided to accept the role, concluding that it would be best for him to embrace his sexual orientation now, as opposed to later in his career. “My being gay would have to come out eventually,” he reasoned.
“I didn’t want it to be hovering over me my entire career. I had already been through one traumatic outing. I could not go through that again. At least by acknowledging it now, my biggest secret was laid out on the table and I would be able to come out on my own terms.”
Additionally, Moretti liked the idea of being part of the new movement in gay television. “I’m proud to be part of a show that is entertaining our culture. Gay heroes and villains are a concept not often explored and HERE-TV should be commended for being the first network to make it happen.”
Since debuting on “The Lair,” Moretti has also appeared as a guest star on “Dante’s Cove,” another sexy, supernatural HERE series. He admits to being happier now than ever before.
“I have the best of both worlds. I get to step outside of myself and play different characters on the set each day and then when I head home, I actually respect the person I see in the mirror.”
He has also grown fond of L.A. “The weather is perfect and there’s always something to do and someone to hang out with. No one has real jobs so if you want to go clubbing on a Wednesday or have a beach party on a Monday, you can.
“I also found the Hollywood I used to dream about,” he adds. “Walking through the studio gates each morning is electrifying. I feel like James Dean when he was shooting ‘Rebel Without A Cause.’ It’s a pretty cool feeling.”
— ‘The Lair: Complete First Season’ will be released on DVD on Oct. 9.