Noah Galvin
Noah Galvin stars as gay teen Kenny in ABC's "The Real O'Neals." (ABC/Ron Batzdorff)

Noah Galvin: High hopes for ‘Real O’Neals’ character

The Real O’Neals star Noah Galvin may look like he’s the same age as 16-year-old Kenny in the ABC sitcom, but the 22-year-old says he has to shave twice a day to maintain the younger look.

“I have to get a full haircut every four days,” the out actor said. “And shaving, I have every single type of razor possible. I have four different electric ones plus a five-blade, a three-blade and a single-blade safety razor. I literally have everything.”

Galvin, who was in Chicago to celebrate Thanksgiving at his grandparents’ in Evanston, sat down with me to chat about the show’s “gay mafia” cameos and what he hopes to see for Kenny going forward.

He also previewed upcoming episodes, including the “jock block” in “The Real Fit,” airing at 9:30/8:30c Nov. 29 on ABC.

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Tell me about “The Real Fit” episode.

“The Real Fit” is a big episode for Mary Hollis Inboden [a former Chicago theater actor]. We’ve always sort of danced around how Mary Hollis’s character, Aunt Jodi, is related to our family. We call her Aunt Jodi but she looks nothing like us. The story is that she is the ex-wife of Pat’s brother, our dad (Jay R. Ferguson).

So, she says to Eileen (Martha Plimpton) at one point, “I am your almost ex-husband’s brother’s ex-wife.” We meet her ex-husband, Pat’s brother Dwayne (Todd Stashwick), and that’s the A story.

The B story is Kenny and Eileen going to CrossFit. I want to go to this CrossFit class because I see a flyer and the trainer is really, really cute. Eileen is scared. She’s still wary of me dating people, so she decides to “jock block” me. So she goes with me to the CrossFit class and she ends up loving it. But I end up having a different relationship with it.


So that’s sort of the start of your athletic arc.

Yes! That’s so funny; I didn’t even think of that. I start off in CrossFit and that’s not for me. Then in “The Real Match” (Dec. 6), Kenny is sort of bamboozled into joining the wrestling team to help out his brother because they need a substitute for a kid who got mono. I end up being a substitute and wrestling for an episode, and we shall see how that unfolds.

Noah Galvin
Jane Lynch, shown with Noah Galvin, appeared in “The Real Thang” episode. (ABC/Ron Batzdorff)

One thing that I love about the show is Kenny’s fantasy interactions with real “celebrity gays” on the show. You have Gus Kenworthy coming up in “The Real Match,” and have had Jane Lynch, RuPaul and others.

I love those moments. The fantasy moments are my favorite. I think every teenager has a fantastical interior life, and the fact that he’s gay just means it’s that much more colorful.

Those moments are some of my favorite times on the set because a lot of the times it happens late night Friday, at the end of the week, or very early in the beginning of the week. They like to do those scenes a little bit separately from everything else because they are these moments that sort of live within themselves.

I like those moments because I get to sort of act as ambassador and host to these celebrities, or actors that are coming to play on our set. And it’s usually just me and them, which is exciting and fun. I get to work with all these amazing, interesting people all the time, you know?


Do these guests inspire you both as an actor and as a gay man?

It depends. Having RuPaul on the show was so cool. I very much look up to RuPaul. I would honestly like to elect him president; he would do an incredible job.

I think it’s incredible what he’s done. He’s taken subversive drag and turned it into something accessible to the mainstream, which I think is so impressive and fantastic for our world, and I think it’s something we very much need right now.

I like that our show gives us the opportunity to represent those people and celebrate those people. Yeah, it’s awesome. I’m inspired by them.


Speaking of that episode, have you ever actually used a rainbow bat phone?

Only at work, honestly. I said somebody should start an Indiegogo and try to make that a thing.


What do you hope the show does with Kenny going forward?

This season, for the first time, you’ll see Kenny in a romantic relationship with another boy. We meet Brett, played by the wonderful actor Sean Grandillo of “Spring Awakening” and “Scream” television fame, in our Christmas episode (Dec. 13). It spans a bunch of episodes and we’ll see where that goes.

After the election, we sat down with our show runners and we talked about how important our show now is with the Vice President-Elect being who he is. We talked about finding a way to address the anxiety in America right now, especially in the gay community. I’m hoping that there is a way to address it in a graceful, network sitcom way.

Beyond that—and maybe a little bit less political—I’d like to see Kenny lose his virginity. Gay sex is so complicated; it’s not as easy as straight sex. It’s not something that comes as naturally, and I’d like to see our writers tackle that.


Especially the first time.

Especially the first time, yes. The first time for any gay man is an interesting one, and there are so many different ways to tackle that situation. I would like to see our writers write about that. I think it’s a good challenge for them. Shonda Rhimes talks a lot about the boundaries of network television, and what she likes about them and how they force her to think outside of the box, and I think our writers feel similarly.


Kenny’s first time—that would be interesting.

Everybody’s first time is already hairy, no pun intended. … I just think it’s an interesting step in a gay man’s life, and I’d like to see that represented on network television. I think it would be wild.


The little asides are hilarious, like when the family is watching the Gay Pride Parade on TV and Jimmy (Matt Shively) says …

“I prefer a hairless chest.”


Yeah! Just out of the blue. Kenny’s dad says similarly odd things.

Since Kenny has come out, I think they both embrace their feminine sides a little bit more than they might have. Yeah, that’s the beauty of Jimmy O’Neal. I think his eyes have been opened to the gay experience and he wants to share in that experience a little bit.

The Real O’Neals at abc.go