Ryan Murphy signed a record-shattering $300 million development deal with Netflix last year, and his debut project is The Politician, about a cartoonishly ambitious teenager played by Dear Evan Hanson's Ben Platt. The series is packed with A-list talent like Gwyneth Paltrow but Murphy also excels at bringing fresh, diverse faces to TV. So viewers may be wondering more about Theo Germaine, who plays James on The Politician. Germaine just had had two big projects debut at Sundance, so 2019 is poised to be a breakout year for them.
Earlier this year, Germaine played Carlisle in Rhys Ernst's directorial debut, Adam, and also starred in Abby McEnany's half-hour comedy pilot, Work in Progress, both of which premiered at Sundance. Work in Progress follows a 45-year-old self-identified queer dyke who falls in love with a transmasculine millennial (played by Germaine) and it premiered as part of Sundance's Indie Episodic program. In May, it was given a series order by Showtime, and it is now set to premiere on Dec. 8, according to Deadline.
The Politician rounds out Germaine's big-time film and TV experience. But considering the not insignificant hype around the show, as well as the possibility for future seasons, it's doubtful they'll remain an unknown face for much longer.
Germaine, who identifies as trans and non-binary, hails from Central Illinois and splits their professional time between Chicago and Los Angeles, appearing on stage at Steppenwolf, the Goodman, and Chicago Shakespeare Company, according to their bio. They've also studied circus and dance, in addition to theater and acting.
In The Politician, Germaine plays James, one of Payton Hobart (Platt)'s two best friends. The other, McAfee (Laura Dreyfuss), and Payton's girlfriend Alice (Julia Schlaepfer) make up Payton's campaign consulting team as he runs for senior class president. But student government doesn't even begin to approach the summit of Payton's lofty goals; he wants to be President of the United States. In a fun structural conceit, each season of The Politician will revolve around a different political race Payton runs, presumably all the way up to Commander-in-Chief — what "going to Nationals" was to Glee. Paltrow plays Payton's mom Georgina, and with their fabulously wealthy Santa Barbara lifestyle, it seems that money is no obstacle to Payton's ambition.
In a 2018 Teen Vogue feature titled "7 Trans Performers Share the Challenges They Still Face and Their Hopes for the Future," Germaine revealed that they'd always thought of acting as "fun and playful, and a place for me to dress up pretty and pretend I was someone else." But in 2018, they decided to begin pursuing professional work as an out non-binary actor. "I was just figuring out how to say 'f*ck it' and be myself in the audition room, and not care about what others thought," they explained. Germaine cited a long resume full of playing fairies and witches in Shakespeare plays in the past, and hopes more realism opportunities will arise for trans and non-binary actors in future. Between a theatrical film debut this year and two major series coming out, they're hopefully on their way.
The Politician is currently streaming on Netflix.