August 1, 2003
1. Being in the business you are, I imagine every working day has its share of excitement or boredom, just like any job. But... have you ever had a job that was mind-numbingly dull and poorly waged? If so, do you now greet your days with gratitude for all the opportunities it presents, or are you like most of us and just take it for granted?
There are times that I take it for granted, but I try whenever possible to remind myself how VERY fortunate I am. At a low point in Chicago I worked for a food delivery company called Room Service. They delivered food from all the fancy-schmancy restaurants in the city. I hated the job. It was horribly demeaning and it taught me that often those who can afford the finer things in life (like having a lobster dinner delivered to their boat docked in the harbor) are often the least generous and appreciative. I had to drive around in my beat-up old car with no air-conditioning wearing a bad polyester tuxedo in the heat of summer, eating spaghetti I had made at home out of a Tupperware bowl and drinking Ensure for extra nutrition. A pretty picture, eh? Not too long after I quit that job, I took over a role in a long-running, silly but high-paying comic play in Chicago and was quite often feeling unfulfilled and cranky at doing it. I remember clearly walking out of the theatre one night, bitter and angry over the show. As I waited to cross the street I saw a beat-up old Datsun drive by with a Room Service sign on it. I returned the next night to the show with a renewed appreciation.
2. If you could make everyone read one book, which would it be?
Right now? Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.
3. How did you like playing "Crystal Ted" as opposed to regular "Sweet but boring Ted"? You had some really intense scenes and the look was wicked sexy. Has the reaction of your fans changed since we've seen Ted's dark side?
Well, I was walking through a shopping center out here in LA last month and a group of four guys was walking towards me. As they passed one of the guys reached out and smacked me on the arm in a disciplinary way and then kept on going. THATS never happened before.
4. Would you ever run for political office?
No. I fear I would either have to compromise my principles far too much or just end up eternally frustrated.
5. Where do you stand on the Medical Marijuana issue?
Why does it have to just be medical? Actually I think its foolish that marijuana is illegal and alcohol is not only legal but the object of half the advertising out there. Alcohol seems far more dangerous a drug to me.
6. A few months ago I went to see some of you guys signing DVDs at a local bookstore and was surprised to see the amount of people there. Are you guys surprised at the amount of people who show up at these signing events?
Constantly. Quite frankly its gotten a little overwhelming for me, as I think Ive answered in a previous month's Q&A. But it is extraordinarily flattering to see the passion people have for the show, to turn out in such large numbers for these events. Reminds us that we are far more successful than the media would allow us to believe.
7. You said in your most recent Showtime chat that you get to see the episodes before they air...do you ever watch them and wish you had time to change things before the airdate?
Very rarely. Occasionally Ill be disappointed in the choice of takes that were used by the director or producers when I felt more strongly about how I felt performing another. But they usually have a good reason to choose what they do and the majority of the time they are right. Its the big difference between stage and film/TV acting. Once you finish shooting, its completely out of your hands as to whats going to end up on the screen and you just have to learn to let it go.
8. Will you share your banana bread recipe with us?
Sure. Go to your favorite local bakery. Order banana bread. Pay for it. Eat it. (Baking is NOT my strong suit).
9. QAF seems to use a lot of cool special effects with your character. My favorite was when Ted was taking a hit off of a pipe and they had a very harsh light on you and the background zoomed back. In the last episode there is a scene where Ted is walking down to the living room in the doctors house, (before Ted sees the video) are you actually wearing a camera at one point in that scene?
Yes, oh insightful one, I am. We have a contraption we call The doggy cam. Its a rather cumbersome harness and tripod that is attached to the actor on one end (by a series of tightly pulled Velcro-ed straps) and a small camera at the other end (thats directed at the actor). Our doggy cam was built by the wonderful Sean Jensen (our camera operator for Season 1 & 2) and was first used by Dean Armstrong in the episode where Blake first re-appears at Babylon in Season 1. Next up was Randy wearing it in Season 2 when he was drugged up at the sex party thrown by his boss from Babylon. Then me. Having the camera (which, although small, is quite heavy) directly attached to the actor gives that odd disorienting effect since it turns every way the actors body does. I think they used a similar camera quite a bit in Requiem For A Dream.
10. How did you "detox" (so to speak) from the difficult scenes you had to do during season three? Was there a certain piece of music or a special book that brought you out of the dark place you needed to be to film those scenes?
Mostly just by being with my friends in the cast and crew. They helped me get through it all. Also, the sheer relief I felt when we finished one of those scenes felt like a weight being lifted. But to be quite honest with you I wasnt ever completely successful at detox-ing from some of the scenes this season. They really took a toll on me and my mood (combined with the diet I was on). Anyone who was at the Toronto premiere Q&A was a witness to a much grouchier, less happy me for example.
11. Male rape is a taboo subject in society and I was shocked to see it so graphically portrayed on the QAF finale. How did you handle filming that, and then having to watch it on the video when Ted first sees it, and then again when the episode was complete?
That scene was perhaps the most gruesome thing Ive ever been involved with. We shot it with just a hand-held video camera and, as more than one crew member said, it felt like we were shooting a snuff film. Some crew members couldnt even be around for the filming because they were so disturbed by it. As for me, I was rather upset at the prospect of shooting that scene and because I know how deeply doing intense scene work affects me, I had requested a body double for some of the scene. My logic was that if Ted was unconscious and didnt remember it, then I didnt need to remember it either. Thats a pretty heavy thing to carry around on your soul even if its just pretend. After three seasons Ted is very much a part of me and I just couldnt see going through all of that. If it was a scene like in Boys Dont Cry where the character needs to go through that and remember it then I would have sucked it up (no pun intended) and done the whole thing. But it just wasnt worth it to me to have to lie there while five or six guys pretended to pound away at me. The producers were VERY supportive of me in this decision. Even still being on the set while the first half of it was being shot (I stepped in and replaced the double for the second half) was horrifying to watch. Male or female, rape has to be the cruelest crime imaginable, because the victim has to suffer with results the rest of their life.
As far as watching it goes, we actually shot the scene where Ted sees the video before we shot the video. So we were all just actually staring at a blank T.V. with a green screen on it.
When I saw the end result I thought it was incredibly powerful. But trust me you guys were spared much of how horrible the full video of that scene was.
12. Some people are saying that there really was no difference between the scene with Ted in the hotel room with all the guys in 310, and the scene with Ted on the video with all the guys in 314. Others feel they are completely different with the first being consensual and the second not consensual. What are your thoughts on this disagreement?
I feel quite strongly that having sex with an unconscious person, even if youve had consensual sex with them before, is rape and wrong. Period. Even if their initial intent was to have sex, the person is no longer actively involved in the act and they are no longer able to consent to whatever their partner is doing.
As far as those two scenes go, the sheer cruelty and degradation that was obvious in the gang bang in the last episode should be enough to let you know these are two VERY different situations.