March 1, 2003
1. A few months ago, I wrote in to ask about healthcare on the set of QAF. In your response you said "We've got nearby hospitals for emergencies and a doctor for other stuff. I had to use him at the start of last season - but thats a story for another time." Just wondering if you would be willing to share your story with the Sco-Lo masses.
Well, its not a pretty story. Essentially after shooting just one day of Season 2 at the end of last August I had a few days off and came down with a terrible case of something. Whether it was the nastiest stomach flu ever or food poisoning from an Indian restaurant Peter Paige and I had dinner at, Ill never be sure. Alls I knows is I woke up on my second off day feeling as if I had drunk a keg full of beer (without any of the fun). My room was spinning and I was light headed and dizzy to such a degree that I could only crawl from my bed to the bathroom to, well become a human Salad Shooter. I did nothing but crawl back-and-forth for much of that and the next day because I was completely unable to stand. When I would try I would fall over from complete lack of balance. I couldnt eat anything and just barely kept water down. After 2 days of this, with little improvement and a day of shooting fast approaching I went to our show doctor, Dr. Waxman. Whatever it was that had hit me had so completely dehydrated me that my equilibrium was totally shot. I got put on the nastiest tasting electrolyte replacement stuff as well as Gatorade and that was all I could keep down for about 4 days. I was so constantly dizzy and unable to keep my balance that I had to be helped around the set like a 90-year-old drunk and as queasy as Lizas husband on their wedding night. If you watch the first episode of Season 2 (on the DVD coming out Feb. 25th!) youll note things like Michelle Clunie holding on to my elbow (and holding me up) wherever we walked at the wedding of Lindsays sister as well as Sharon Gless almost bowling me over outside the courthouse as somehow I was supposed to stop her from charging at Chris Hobbs when I could barely stand up. I finally had my first solid food about a week after the damned thing hit me and was still a little unstable even into shooting episode 2 of the season.
2. A bit of a silly question, maybe... But what exactly does an "Audience warmup" person do on the Jenny Jones show? I'm praying it's not stretching and yoga.
Trust me, yoga would be far too complicated for the audience of the Jenny Jones show Twister would be too complicated for the audience of The Jenny Jones Show. The audience warm-up person at the J.J.S. had to explain to the audience the basic rules of the studio such as, dont read along with Jennys prompter, dont jump up and start screaming and running towards the stage, make sure your fly is zipped when you stand up to ask a question and dont pee on your seat. Other than that it is all about getting them pumped up to be vocal and energized so theyll ask good questions and then entertain them until Jenny finished getting her hair done. I would run a talent show and give away prizes, things like that. Jenny was very sweet to me (as was the producer Ed Glavin) and as surreal as it was it was also a lot of fun for a while.
3. I have had many friends who have attended Interlochen in the past and everyone has a crazy story, from Cicero's Pizza to Bigfoot sightings. What's one of yours?
Man, I gotta say there was a lot I hated about Interlochen, Internment Camp for the Arts. I mean, come on, a summer camp where you have to wear blue corduroy pants (knickers for the girls) and different colored socks to represent your age group. Plus it was SO competitive. Every week in orchestra or band they had these challenges. If you were 1st Chair in the French Horn section (out of, say 4) then you could be challenged by any of the other hornists in your section and bumped out of the 1st chair position. You would each get a chance to play the 1st Chairs part in whatever piece was being performed in that weeks concert before a judge. If you (as 1st Chair) slipped up at all in that performance then you were knocked down to whatever chair your challenger used to occupy, hit with a tympani mallet and forced to carry stones back-and-forth in the hot sun in order to build a wall for the Warden. Okay, so I exaggerate slightly. But, come on. It was summer. We were kids. Sheesh who needs that kind of pressure?
4. If you had to choose between losing your eyesight or your hearing, which would you pick and why?
Wow. Pretty maudlin question. I mean its hard enough not to get depressed in the grey and frigid grasp of winter. Now this? Thanks a lot. Well, Id have to say hearing at this point. I am a very visual person and have become more stimulated by images as time has gone by. Also, as an actor I learn a lot about people by watching them. Plus if I lost my hearing Id never have to listen to Chumbawumba again.
5. A QAF food question: What is that "white stuff" that everyone in the diner seems to be eating constantly? And what is it with all the bacon "Em" eats? I laugh everytime I see him with a slice in his hand!
Not 100% sure what white stuff youre referring to. On our show you have to be VERY specific with a question like that. If its in a bowl with fruit its usually yogurt. You need to remember that whatever we choose to eat in a diner scene has to be eaten over and over and over again with every take. Our fabulous food stylist Johanna Weinstein does her best to come up with dishes that we wont get too sick of and that wont cause our boyish figgers to expand too much. As far as Emmetts bacon (its turkey, by the way) its just the perfect food for him to eat. I mean he gets to wave it around flamboyantly and stick it in his mouth. Two of his favorite activities.
6. I know you get asked "What's it like to work with Gale Harold...Hal Sparks...Peter Paige...etc?" all the time and you must be tired of it. I'd like to know what it was like to work with some of the single episode actors on the show, such as Darrin "Roger" Baker, Matthew G. "Zack O'Toole" Taylor, Bobby "Dale Wexler" Johnston and the actors who played Luke and Eddie (whose names escape me, sadly). Can you share any stories about working with them?
Darrin was great to work with, very generous, talented and brave. He loved playing Roger so much that he came up with a scenario for the characters return. He told the producers that he would go away and work out with a trainer for months, get in amazing shape and then re-appear at the end of the season as a trim and buff Roger who would, in turn, reject Ted. He is a wonderful singer (with his own CD) and most recently was starring in the musical Hello, Muddah. Hello, Faddah. up here in Toronto. Matt Taylor is enormous. Maybe not quite in the way that Zack OToole is but he is a giant. It was hard not to laugh every scene Ive had with him as he captured that arrogant porn star so well. Hes a very nice guy and a former cop to boot. Bobby Johnston is the human embodiment of He-Man, Master of the Universe but with a great heart and spirit. He helped make me comfortable down in the dungeon and was intent and serious about accurately capturing what was seductive about the S&M culture. He worked a lot with our advisor for the episode to make sure he got it right. Jason Knight was terrific to work with as well and I was a little sad that Luke had to disappear quite so quickly. Our first scene together was the bedroom scene and his genuine, warm personality helped us bond quickly enough to make shooting those scenes far less awkward than they otherwise might have been. And finally, young Darren Keay who played Teds overly helpful and perceptive assistant Eddie (named by Dan & Ron after my best buddy Eddie Jemison) was well, what you see on screen: eager, fun and guileless. He made a wonderful impression on many and I wouldnt be surprised to see him return sometime soon.
7. I'm curious to know from an actor's perspective how you feel about fans, your privacy, and whether actors are able to reasonably expect the same amount of privacy as people who are not in the public eye, since a lot of celebrities seem extremely perturbed any time they are approached by the public. How do you feel about being approached when you're "off duty," and do you feel that regular (ie, non-harassing or stalking) fan behavior or requests infringes on your privacy and/or ability to lead a normal life?
Well, I can only give you the perspective if an actor known only for a cult-hit television show but Funny I should be answering this question right now. The following happened just after I started that first sentence: Im sitting in the Toronto airport waiting for a flight to Chicago and Ive just been approached by a young man Ill call Tyler (not his real name; a very nice guy with very nice things to say about the show. ALWAYS happy to hear it but just as one would when talking to a stranger, one needs to recognize when the conversation is over and you need to say goodbye. Tyler proceeded to sit down and tell me ALL about his life and so here I am now, half an hour later boarded on the plane and finally able to get back to what I was doing when he begged my pardon for interrupting me. This is a pretty good example of what not to do. Just think how you would feel. For myself, I never mind someone stopping me to say hello, or how much they like the show or my work or tell me Im not SO bad looking or even ask a few questions. The hard part of being known because of a television show is that because you come into peoples homes once a week they feel like they KNOW you; and because I genuinely enjoy meeting people and want them to feel comfortable there seems to be a bit of a compulsion, like Tylers to tell me ummm more than I really need to know. In general I would say you need to recognize that if you are interrupting someones life to say hello (i.e. While theyre eating, reading, writing, sleeping or talking with someone else) you should say what you feel you need to say and then move on. If youre meeting them at a party or a more social occasion where the purpose is to spend time chatting then, by all means, chat away! My #1 pet peeve is when fans apologize for saying nice things. Im so sorry, I know you must hear this a lot, etc. Trust me its wonderful to have someone come up and affirm that what you do matters to someone. So you dont ever need to apologize for being a fan as far as Im concerned. I dont think Ill ever get tired of it.
8. Even though I was often disappointed in the direction Ted's character was taken in season 2 (I felt there were far too many storylines that were used to humiliate him), I can at least appreciate that some steps were taken to give him more independence and confidence (such as jerk@work). While my hope is that season 3 is going to be one with lots of character growth for Ted (and the others), I'm curious to know what you feel is the best place to leave Ted's character at the very end of the series. Is transforming Ted into a fully happy, confident man the logical (and appropriate) end for him, or should he always stay somewhat insecure and unsure of himself, since so many people feel that vulnerability is what ultimately makes Ted who he is?
At the end of the series Id like to see Ted with everything he wants: managing an opera company in a warm climate with a loving partner at his side and all his friends nearby. But only after hes learned to love himself a bit more. His vulnerability will always be there because he wears his heart on his sleeve, but that doesnt mean he cant learn that to be vulnerable and taken advantage of arent necessarily the same thing. Okay, so the warm climate is my own projection but its only cause I love the guy so!
9. Even though I'd really love to communicate to a performer that they've really moved or inspired me, I feel like SUCH a tool that I generally avoid saying anything because I'm afraid I'll come across as cheesy or annoying. How do you feel when someone does approach you about your work? Do you enjoy getting the positive feedback, or does it freak you out a little that strangers are coming up to you and commenting on how well you do your job?
See question 7.
10. I love all of the people I've managed to meet through my liking of QAF, but sometimes I feel silly spending this much time in the "fandom" of a show, discussing it, writing about, debating the characterizations, etc. Do you think we're all silly for caring so much about something that's fictional? And are there any shows (or movies, bands, etc.) that inspire a similar response from you?
Yes, you are ALL freaks! But I love you for it. I used to get an Elvis Costello fanzine called Beyond Belief that is now out of print. And theres this movie called Porn that seems to have A LOT of web sites dedicated to it. I try to get to as many as I can, but its a full time job believe me.