Christopher Gorham talks up Henry's return to 'Ugly Betty'
Watching Betty choose herself after getting offers from the lovably nerdy accountant Henry and impish sandwich boy Gio last season was, well, painful.
Nothing against her move to become an independent woman, but this season she followed them up with soft-rocker Jesse -- what an ill-conceived detour that was! -- and now rich nice guy Matt.
Boy, is he nice.
Too bad Henry's about to sweep the floor with him. OK, that's not exactly for sure, but Betty's first love -- and "Wicked"-loving soul mate -- returns to give Matt a run in Thursday's "Ugly Betty" season finale.
Christopher Gorham, who currently stars in CBS' horror anthology "Harper's Island," spoke with us about why Henry was written off the show in the first place, why's he back and why -- heaven help us -- the actor thinks Henry might not be the guy Betty should end up with. Let's just agree to disagree:
So Henry's back to win over Betty -- your appearance in the finale is just he beginning right?
Well I’m only coming back for one episode. One is all that I know about. I certainly could go back and do more, but for now it’s just that.
I'm still hopeful. How did Henry's return come together?
I got a call from creator Silvio Horta [who also worked with Gorham on "Jake 2.0"] When I left the show the first time, he made it clear to me that he was hoping that I would be able to come back at some point. So it wasn’t a totally unexpected phone call. He wanted me to come back and do an episode near the end of the season and, of course, I was happy to do it.
Whose decision was it to have Henry exit the show?
It was the writers. It was a story problem. I always felt that Henry was kind of accidentally written off the show.
How did it happen?
Everybody got so excited about America Ferrera and I together, so the writers immediately tried to save that relationship for the long term on the show, and their way of doing that was to start throwing obstacles in the way to keep us apart. I think what they underestimated was deciding to give him a baby. I don’t think that they realized what that really meant.
What did it mean?
At first, there was a lot of talk that they wouldn’t make the baby Henry’s. That they’d make it Dr. Farkas' or something. But they didn’t want to cop out and not make it his. So we had long conversations about how Henry could come back with the baby having left his girlfriend Charlie and be a very sympathetic single dad in New York and how that could be really interesting because Betty’s dad is a single dad, too. But as Season 2 was winding down and they started breaking stories for Season 3, I think they realized the show isn’t called "Ugly Betty and Henry." It’s "Ugly Betty" and there’s a lot of other characters and to really service that single dad storyline you’d really have to spend a lot of time on it. It just wasn’t going to work.
How did you take the news?
I had always had the same opinion, actually. I had said from the beginning, 'Listen guys, no one wants Betty to have somebody else’s baby.' You just don’t want that for her. You want her to have kids, you want her to have her own children. You don’t want Betty to be a mom to someone else’s kid, especially not this crazy bitch Charlie. As much as people love Henry, sorry, but it’s not his show.
Henry also got flakier toward the end of last season, as they tried to build up Gio.
Yeah, at the same time they’re giving me this baby to keep me and Betty apart they also brought in Gio, to do that as well. So they had to make me a little dumber and make him great. It was very much to make people like Gio, to make this triangle work and make it believable. It just was not good for my job security.
What did you think of her winding up with neither of you?
As a viewer, taking my life out of it, I was actually relieved. Because as an audience member and as a fan of the show I was bored of me. Me and Gio and all of her romantic stuff. Like seriously? I never dated that much. Who does that?
What do you think of the beaus Betty has had since?
Ha, that was interesting. I was in Vancouver working on 'Harper’s Island' and thinking back to the conversation with Silvio and how they really wanted to get away from Betty’s romantic life in Season 3 and just have her focus on work. Then I'd keep running across articles screaming, 'New boyfriend! New boyfriend!' and I’m thinking, 'What the hell?' What was wrong with her old boyfriend if you were going to keep doing that?' Really, it was fine.
What do you think of Matt so far?
Early on, he reminded me a lot of Henry. In that, he's a really nice guy. I don’t mind him. And Daniel Eric Gold, who plays him, is really talented and I think really charming on the show.
Yeah, but do you think he stands a chance?
It's funny. I think Henry comes back and is revealed at the end of a rainbow. For Daniel, it’s gotta be like, ‘Are you kidding me? I’ve been working so hard and now you bring this jackass and he’s at the end of a rainbow in front of the Brooklyn bridge?! Give me a break!’ At one point while we were shooting I had a conversation with him and I said, ‘Listen, you’re doing great. I’m going to be out of here in two days.’
Can you set up how Henry comes back?
Henry has a new girlfriend, who remarkably looks like his old girlfriend. She’s an aerobics instructor so he’s going with her to New York for an aerobics convention, but he really wants to run into Betty, so he’s updating his Facebook page every five minutes, saying where he is at all times.
Why doesn't he just call her?
He doesn’t want to intrude on her life, but at the same time he really really wants to see her and still has feelings for her. So of course they wind up bumping into each other and reconnecting a little bit and they end up going on a double date to a Mets game. That's all I should say.
What do you think -- Is there a possibility Henry will be back next season?
Honestly, I don’t know what they have planned story-wise. No one’s talked to me about coming back on any kind of regular basis. Silvio mentioned he’d like to have me. Ideally, he’d like to be able to use me occasionally.
Are you up for it?
Of course, it would just depend on a lot of things. But yeah, I love them. Everybody there is great and America is a very good friend and we have a blast working together.
What’s up with Charlie and the baby? You didn’t mention either.
We talk about the baby. Charlie we don’t talk about. They’ve broken up. In my head, they’re not together. They were never going to be together. The whole point of going to Tucson was not to be together with her, it was to be there with his kid. It’s very Dr. Laura. I think Dr. Laura would like Henry.
Do you think Henry’s good for Betty ultimately?
It’s a good question. I think they’re good for each other. Whether they’re good long term? I don’t know. It just depends. People change, and their lives change. It depends on what Betty wants. Again, even for me as an audience member, I don’t know that I want Betty to be the mom of Charlie’s kid for life. She’d be great at it, and her and Henry could be very happy together. That’s not really what I want for that character.
-- Denise Martin
Photo: Christopher Gorham as Henry on "Ugly Betty." Credit: ABC