He may not be a household name yet, but Aussie actor Murray Bartlett is working on it.
The 43-year-old is building a cult global following as Dom, one of the three leads on Looking, HBO's ground-breaking series about gay life in San Francisco. (Sigh, that facial hair is just swoon-worthy.)
TheFIX spoke with Murray ahead of Looking's season two launch on Foxtel… and it turns out he's just a bit shy about being called a "heart-throb".
"I haven't really thought about it much," Murray told us with a nervous laugh. "Sure, it's very flattering…yeah." Oh he's too modest.
Born in Sydney, raised in Perth and now based in New York, Murray's star is finally taking off after years as a jobbing actor on Home and Away, Neighbours, Damages, The Good Wife and White Collar.
But it was one episode on Sex and The City that changed the path of his career forever. Remember Carrie's new gay BFF, Australian shoe seller Olivier Spencer? That was him.
"That was my first job in the US, it started the ball rolling for me there," he says. "I got an agent from that, [then rolled into] getting visas and eventually getting a green card.
"It was such a thrilling experience I was a huge fan of the show, it was very surreal just hanging out in New York and doing acting classes to suddenly being on set and having brunch with Sarah Jessica Parker."
Did he fan-boy over SJP? "I did in my mind," Murray admits. "But I was trying to be cool."
In case you need a refresher:
While some Aussie stars who've made it in the US aren't so proud of their Home and Away history (cough, Melissa George), Murray is totally cool about his 1992 role as Randy Evans on the Aussie soap.
"I was fresh out of acting school and had very little experience on camera so it was a great learning curve," he says. "I certainly don't feel embarrassed about it. That was an important step along the way."
Murray is openly gay, but he hasn't spoken much in interviews about his own path to discovering his sexuality. Until now.
"My mum asked me at a relatively young age whether I thought I might be gay and I said 'yeah I think I might be'," he tells us. "She was super-cool about it, but my mum is sort of extraordinary and I was very, very lucky. I was about 15."
Murray's mother, who lives in Perth, is still his biggest supporter today.
"She had a gathering of her friends around to watch the first episode [of Looking]," he adds. "I warned her about the tone of the show but she's proud of anything that I do!"
And while Looking has been widely praised for its raw depiction of gay men's lives, some have accused the show of having a lack of diversity.
"There was a criticism that it wasn't respecting some aspects of the gay community, which I think is impossible, the show is about these few characters," he says.
"Of course you want to make a great comprehensive representation of their world but it would be a mistake for the show to try and cram everything in."
Now that he's becoming better-known, Murray is well aware he's in a position to influence others coming to terms with their own sexuality.
"It's important to live honestly and not lie," Murray says. "Particularly if it can take things forward and maybe make people who are living in fear or shame come through it and push the boundaries of people being prejudiced."
Looking season two debuts on Foxtel's showcase channel on January 12 at 8.30pm. Looking season one is available now on DVD and digital download and on Foxtel's BoxSets channel.
Author: Adam Bub. Follow @TheAdamBub.