February 2, 2002
1. Do you get pressure from the "bosses" to keep your weight down?
Are you saying Im FAT?!?!?!? Actually the only way they pressure me is by keeping me in a state of sheer terror by never letting me know exactly when Im going to be naked in front of millions of people (counting future generations of QAF viewers). Thats enough to make me watch what I eat. If anything I have to keep my vanity in check and stop myself from hiring a trainer and working out like a fiend. Buff is not a word I ever want associated with Ted.
2. Dish about our staid, "bore"-derline trendy, yet super friendly city of Toronto. You like, you love, you crawl under the covers in the winter?
My, my. Do we have issues with Toronto? Hmm? I like ol Toronto quite a bit. As Ive said many times, it reminds me a lot of Chicago. Its a great walking city (something I miss living in LA). The area I live in this year is just chock-full of great restaurants and shops all around the corner from my apartment. Also, movie theatres, live theatres and cool music venues everywhere. I love how neighborhoods completely change personality every couple of blocks; from upscale to bohemian, to University, to Little Italy, Chinatown, etc. Now, I did leave Chicago to escape the winters (among other reasons) so the irony that after moving out to sunny LA Ive been shipped back to such a chilly place is not lost on me. However, as the oft-quoted Peter Paige always puts it: If Toronto was in Mexico, Id move there in a heartbeat. I will probably start nesting a little more now that the wind and snow have turned quite cold unless someone has a couple of courtside seats to a Raptors game for me. Thats a SURE way to get me out of the house!
3. So, what's your favorite song?
I have a really tough time picking favorites. But Ill give you two of my top of the pops. (Whats So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding a song written by the great Nick Lowe as a sarcastic mockery of young, angst-filled social activists that Elvis Costello brilliantly turned around into a heartfelt, angry and sincere plea. Also, This Must Be the Place (Nave Melody), by the Talking Heads. Speaks to me of that sense of home and completion that only a true love can give you.
4. Does the media badger the cast with sexual orientation questions? If so, what is your reaction to not just the media, but society's obsession with sexuality?
They definitely were obsessed with it last year. See my blog of 1/31/02 for more on this topic.
5. My question is in regards to your theatre work. I see from your bio that you have done quite a bit of theatre, and I was wondering if you've heard of and considered doing some at the Stratford festival here in Ontario during your hiatus? I have gone there nearly every summer since I was a child, and I find it to be very deserving of its fine reputation. Have you considered, or can I plant the idea of you pursuing some work there?
I have been well aware of the Stratford Festival since my early days of working in Chicago and have always wanted to work there. If the right project comes along and theyre in such desperate straits that they would actually hire me you can be assured that Ill be there with my tights washed and ready.
6. How did your family and friends react to your decision to audition for the role of Ted on Queer As Folk ?
Well, I never really talk about auditions with people so as not to jinx anything. So no one really knew about the role until after I was cast. My family and friends have been amazingly supportive from the start. When I described Ted to my friends who know the many sides of me best they would all respond: Oh, perfect!
7. You are truly an amazing actor. Who did you study with?
Wow. Thanks for the compliment. The man I consider my mentor is an actor named Morris Carnovsky. He was a member of The Group Theatre back in the 30s; originating roles in many of Clifford Odets plays and working along side of Lee Strassberg, Stella Adler, Harold Clurman and (Morriss eventual wife) Phoebe Brand to create some of the most vibrant theatre seen in our country and in the process revolutionizing American acting techniques. (To read more about The Group I recommend a book called Real Life Drama by Wendy Smith) Unfortunately Morris was one of many that Elia Kazan, another Group member, later ratted out to the HUAC. He was blacklisted through the 50s and into the 60s. Eventually John Houseman lured him out of seclusion and Morris re-invented himself as one of the finest Shakespearean actors in the States. He became Americas pre-eminent King Lear and Shylock (re-interpreting him in a renowned production with Katherine Hepburn). Eventually he also found great happiness in teaching. The lessons he taught me remain the most important. Though he was in his late 80s by th etime I started studying with him (off and on for 3 years) his wisdom, skills, talent and joy were in no way dulled by age. Morris passed away in 1992 at the age of 94. I carry his obituary in my wallet as a talisman.
I also credit Linda Herr, my college professor at Connecticut College, for teaching me (along with many technical skills and a love for theatre history) to never take myself too seriously. Other than that Ive learned by doing over the past 15 years.
8. Have you ever gotten any negative attention, from friends or anti-gay groups, about your role in QAF or about QAF in general?
I guess Im lucky in that Ive had nothing but positive feed-back from those whose opinions matter to me. I gave up reading reviews many years ago (because even good ones make you self-conscious and are therefore disruptive) so I remain blissfully unaware of any negative comments. However, Ive spoken in the past of being 97% certain that I was not asked to be a part of new editions of a commercial campaign I had been involved with due to my role on QAF.
9. You mentioned hoping QAF would be recognized at the level of the Soprano's, (I feel it is and beyond), but do you think the awards institutions i.e.; Emmys will ever be open-minded and/or bold enough to recognize the obvious talent involved with this show from costumes, music, writing,acting, etc. We all can applaud seeing hatred, torture, scheming and murder, but will we also award loving and caring relationships even with the same sex?
You put it very well. The one thing Ive been disheartened about over the past year is how completely ignored QAF is by the awards shows (save for GLAAD). Is it homophobia or some vendetta against Showtime? When I try to answer the question I get quite angry so I try not to focus on it. It truly is most important that our fans are SUCH FANS! But, come on! Will & Grace gets nominated for a best costume Emmy and we dont? Even if you want to ignore the acting and writing, our show looks better than anything out there. It seems like theyre afraid of legitimizing our show with their attention. The mystery is: Why?
10. What is it about Ted that makes you play him so well? Is Ted the character you auditioned for or was there another?
Ted is the only role I auditioned for and the only role I wanted to play. I understand Teds psyche, love his big heart and dry humor. Ive been where he is and am very sympathetic of his plight. Its just one of those magical creative connections where so much of my own life experiences enable me to play him in a way that no one else could. Its not necessarily the best way, just unique to my vision.
11. Has anyone made the observation that you resemble George Clooney - a MUCH better looking George Clooney?
All right, now youre going overboard. The suggestion of a mere resemblance is flattery enough! As a matter of fact I was working on a show with an actress named Rose Abdoo back in 1994 and she brought in a TvGuide with a picture of this fella named George who was in this new show called ER. Oh, my GAWD! she screamed I had to show you this. Its your brother! He looks exactly like you. I didnt see the resemblance then, but after years of people saying the same thing to me I still dont see it. But Thanks! I hope to work with him someday soon. Maybe hell see the resemblance.
12. Are you a UConn Husky fan by chance?
Well, I went to Conn. College not UCONN, so I am a Conn. College Camel fan yes, the Camels! But I do enjoy when the Huskies are winning as well.
13. What is the weirdest/scariest thing you have gotten from a fan? How do you react when fans can't seem to separate your character from you?
A small statue of a bishop whose head has been replaced by a fishs.
Im actually flattered when people constantly feel the need to let me know that Im not unattractive and offer me therapy for my low self-esteem. The fact that they believe so strongly that Ted exists in me means that the writers and I have done our jobs of making him a 3-dimensional character. I sometimes dont want to disappoint them by letting them know that I think I am the hottest piece of man-meat out there and that I have the ability to nail any piece of tail that I want whenever I want!
14. If you could be on any TV show currently running other than QAF, what would it be and what character would you like to play? I always thought that if Toby Ziegler on THE WEST WING had a younger brother, you would be perfect for the part.
Yeah, Id love to work on The West Wing. I would have loved to play Jeremy on the now defunct Sports Night (so I could smooch on Sabrina Lloyd among many other reasons) or a teacher on Freaks & Geeks. Wouldnt mind playing a Fredo-like character on The Sopranos. Honestly though, Ted is the most interesting character to me on TV right now.
15. Do you know why QAF uses production numbers for the episodes rather than giving them titles like most tv shows do? Do you think that will ever change?
Im not 100% sure why. Probably because the episodes are too complicated to sum up in a title. We do make up our own titles for in house use, however. Winnie Jong, our script supervisor and continuity chick, picks her favorite line from an episode and makes that the title. For example the episode in Season 1 where Justins mom takes him to see a shrink was titled: I Like Dick, after his famous response to the therapists questioning how he feels.