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Queerty: Hallmark’s cowboy drama just had its first gay kiss—meet the hunky actor bringing the heat to ‘Ride’

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Vasilios Filippakis poses in a tank top
Photo Credit: Trevor Paul

Earlier this spring, The Hallmark Channel had us hollerin’ “YEEHAW!” when we learned its new scripted drama, Ride, featured a prominent gay character played by out actor Jake Foy.

Yes, that’s right, the Hallmark Channel—former home of Candace Cameron Bure—has come a long way.

In telling the story of the McMurrays, a prominent Colorado ranch family, Ride‘s approach to LGBTQ+ inclusion has been refreshingly matter-of-fact. Foy plays the youngest of the bunch, Tuff, a gay man who lives his life out and proud, accepted both by his family and the rodeo-obsessed community around him.

And when Tuff starts bringing a new male love interest around, nobody bats an eye—well, except for his over-protective relatives who just want the best for the baby of the family.

That love interest is a local named Julian, played by charming breakthrough actor Vasilios Filippakis, and the two cowboys have only gotten closer with each passing episode.

In fact, in this week’s most recent episode, “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” Tuff and Julian finally share their first kiss! It’s a pretty remarkable moment for Hallmark, a network that up until recently was mostly known for extremely hetero holiday movies.

To mark this very special episode, we chatted up Filippakis about the significance of the kiss, and he was also kind enough to share some exclusive pics from his recent shoot with photographer Trevor Paul.

So, scroll below for Filippakis’ hot takes and some fire photos:

Vasilios Filippakis poses shirtless in jeans
Photo Credit: Trevor Paul

After weeks of build-up, we finally get to see Julian and Tuff kiss! This is still a pretty big deal for the Hallmark Channel, but why does the kiss feel important to you?

The thing I love the most about Tuff and Julian is that their story and connection is really grounded in the world Ride has created.  I am thrilled to see that Hallmark is not only growing as a network but picked both Jake Foy and I to represent a narrative they have yet to explore with leads on a TV series.

The kiss to me is significant because it’s honest as affection is a major part of dating/love relationships. It’s been a slow build for Julian and Tuff and we finally get to see them be intimate and be their true selves, adding a layer of depth to the character that the audience has yet to see. 

Vasilios Filippakis poses in a tank top
Photo Credit: Trevor Paul

What do you like most about playing Julian? In what ways are you two similar—or different?

Julian is, very much like me, optimistic and always sees the good in people. He will make the most out of any situation he is in. I like to think I’m like that.

Vasilios Filippakis poses in a pool
Photo Credit: Trevor Paul

Do you have any personal experience on farms or ranches? You did get to ride a horse in a recent episode, and you looked like a natural…

Up until Ride, I had zero farm-like experience. Honestly, a cowboy was never something I saw myself as… but I loved it on set. I was thriving. Riding the horse wasn’t difficult! What was difficult was getting on the horse! My horse was so big and I’m only 5’6 so…thank god for apple boxes!

Vasilios Filippakis poses in a tank top
Photo Credit: Trevor Paul

Is there anything you can tease about what’s ahead for Julian or the relationship?

Julian is a go-getter, he really works hard. I can’t say too much but Julian has his eye set to being the best Bronco rider he can be. Tune in next Sunday to find out!

Vasilios Filippakis poses in a pool
Photo Credit: Trevor Paul

Broadly speaking, at a time when we’re seeing lots of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the country, why do you feel queer representation in shows like Ride can make a difference?

Representation is important in the media. It allows us to see that everybody has a place in this world. Media not only affects the way others see us, it affects how we see ourselves. I am grateful to be part of a show like Ride, that has moved past the trope of how gay men specifically were depicted in the media, to displaying another side of this unique gay relationship that is true to the world they have created.

Photo Credit: Trevor Paul
Vasilios Filippakis poses in a tank top
Photo Credit: Trevor Paul
Vasilios Filippakis poses in a pool
Photo Credit: Trevor Paul

New episodes of Ride premiere every Sunday on The Hallmark Channel.

Queerty