Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-11-25
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Rusty Schwimmer: A True Character
by Richard Knight, Jr.

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Rusty Schwimmer. Pic by Gene Page courtesy of County Line Films


For Windy City Times/Knight at the Movies

Winnetka native and character actress Rusty Schwimmer and I have known each other for over 20 years. We met when we were both working in Chicago's nightclub scene back in the mid-'80s. By 1989, she'd headed out to the West Coast, and in a few short years established a career in movies and television that has never let up. Although she's had comedic roles, she's usually cast in dramatic parts. Movie audiences recognize her from those small but important character roles—like the anxious, worried juror in Runaway Jury; the tough but vulnerable barfly in The Perfect Storm; and the gutsy miner in North Country.

Now she is co-starring with Paul Giamatti in the offbeat indie The Hawk Is Dying ( premiering in Chicago this Friday at the Gene Siskel Center ) . In the film Schwimmer plays a distracted, anxious southern belle named Precious, who is the brother of Giamatti and the mother of an autistic son ( Michael Pitt ) . During a recent trip back to Chicago, she and I talked about the film, Desperate Housewives and A-list actors coming out.

Windy City Times: The Hawk Is Dying is a very unusual piece. It's very non-linear—a real test for an absent-minded audience. I loved that the normal assumptions you make about characters in a movie didn't really apply.

Rusty Schwimmer: Yes, right. Some people have pointed that out. I think it's because we've been spoon-fed as an audience—I'm saying this in a very general way—to figure out exactly where we are, who we are [ and ] what the relationships are within the first five minutes of the movie. I believe that in movies that are really, really great you don't have that spoon fed to you. Hats off to Julian Goldberger, the filmmaker, because he doesn't want to do that. He feels the audience is much more intelligent than the lowest common denominator and that the lowest common denominator is not as low as most people think.

WCT: How did this originally come to you, Rusty? Did you know this director-writer?

RS: I didn't know him or anything about him. He had worked with John Hawkes, who played Bugsy in The Perfect Storm; [ then, ] John and Nick Offerman—my friend who used to be with the Defiant Theatre in Chicago—both said, 'The character of Precious needs to be Rusty.' So Julian saw me at the very beginning of casting and then I didn't hear anything; I thought I did well. Then ,maybe six months later, I got a call asking if I'd be willing to play Precious.

WCT: Can you talk about working with Paul Giamatti?

RS: I was in a happy bubble to be working with such incredible people that really love what they do. I loved that Paul Giamatti is so open. We immediately had this connection. The first night I was on location in Florida he took me to this restaurant called Mom's—a great soul food place—and they all loved him because they'd seen Big Momma's House so many times.

WCT: Right! I'd forgotten he'd done that.

RS: Yes, exactly. So, from the get-go we were like brother and sister, and we could say anything in front of each other; working with each other was great. One of us would have an insane idea and the other person would giggle and then we'd try it and see if it worked or not.

WCT: Is it true that with material this emotionally difficult that those are the movie sets where the atmosphere is light and you have a great time?

RS: [ Laughs ] Yes—actually that's true, at least for me. One of the hardest, most serious sets I was on was a comedy that I did—EdTV; it was just a very serious set. The Perfect Storm was a hilarious set, North Country was hilarious and, this, the most hilarious of all. I think that unless you're a method actor—which Paul and I certainly are not and we'll drop character in a second [ laughs ] —you need a rest from the intensity. And in that scene that I won't give away that's so intense—in-between takes we were yukking it up, laughing so hard because it was too horrible to deal with.

WCT: How long was the shoot? Pretty quick?

RS: Yes—23, 24 days. We had to shoot quick but I think if we'd had to shoot anymore it would have hurt us because it was so compact that it was almost like a tornado went through, you know? This was the first movie that I came away with—and I've done a lot of intense movies—where I couldn't shake it. I think that if I was in that mode for any longer, I really wouldn't have been able to shake it and I had to do another movie right after that.

WCT: Let's talk about some of your TV appearances because you're on every hit show it seems—Heroes, Six Feet Under and Boston Legal . You [ also ] have a Desperate Housewives episode coming up, right?

RS: I do. I play a forest ranger. [ Laughs ] Now, who would meet up with a forest ranger, I wonder?

WCT: Hmmm. Our People love that show and one of the reasons for that, of course, is that it was created by a gay man, Marc Cherry. Did you meet him?

RS: Yes. briefly. What I really enjoyed about Mr. Cherry, to be perfectly honest, was that he said, 'Thank you so much for coming and playing with us.' He said 'playing'—not 'working'—and I thought that was very telling about what kind of human being he is. I liked him a lot. He was very, very sweet.

WCT: Okay, my gay-friendly friend who has worked for everyone in the business in both movies and TV: Do you think we're ever going to see a mega movie star come out in our lifetime?

RS: [ Crestfallen ] Oh honey, it's not going to happen unless they're a character actor. They just say to the actor two words: 'Rupert Everett.'

WCT: And those two words work because Everett's career was wrecked by his coming out?

RS: Well, they say no one wants to take him seriously as a heterosexual guy, which really sucks because it really shouldn't matter. Actors play all sorts of parts. I can't tell you how many lesbians I've played. Is that fair to the lesbian community that lesbian actors can't play straight roles? It's not fair and doesn't make any sense. But at the same time, a lot of people will look at Rupert Everett and not want to make waves.

WCT: Is it just a generational thing?

RS: Yes, but until those old white guys leave Hollywood and Washington, it's not going to happen. It might be another generation and, if it is, that's brilliant because then it's only one more generation instead of two or three. But I don't think it's going to happen in the next 10 years. Character actors [ will come out ] but not leading men. Not yet.

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Knight at the Movies: Tab Hunter Confidential 2015-11-25
Entertainment: 'Gotham' actor; Melissa Etheridge; Nathan Lane; Samira Wiley 2015-11-24
NUNN ON ONE: MOVIES Van Hansis, The name game 2015-11-24
TELEVISION Ilene Chaiken helps to rule an 'Empire' 2015-11-18
Upcoming: Susan Sontag movie; Barlesque 8; HBHC and FFC 2015-11-18
Chicago Public Library, Chicago Commission on Human Relations to screen Waking in Oak Creek 2015-11-13
Upcoming: Buck Angel; Mitchell/Wachowski; Maserati; Barlesque; Twyla Tharp 2015-11-03
MOVIES Out model/actress, director weigh in on 'Liz in September' 2015-11-03
Knight at the Movies: Suffragette; Nasty Baby 2015-10-28
Entertainment: James Franco; Selena Gomez; Laverne Cox; Adele 2015-10-27
THEATER David Zak talks theater, film, upcoming benefit 2015-10-24
Ellen Burstyn on working with Personal PAC 2015-10-21
Chicago dancer on Alvin Ailey, film and coming out 2015-10-21
CIFF: 'Mia Madre,' LGBT films and more 2015-10-20
Entertainment: Ezra Miller; 'Ab Fab;' Lee Daniels; Lupita Nyong'o 2015-10-20
MOVIES Talking with 'Big Eden' director Thomas Bezucha 2015-10-19
Knight at the Movies: Chicago Internat'l Film Festival LGBT highlights 2015-10-14
Upcoming film, music: I Am the Queen; Homolatte 2015-10-14
Reeling announces festival winners 2015-10-14
Entertainment: 'Model'; Lance Bass; ABC Family; Madonna & Prince 2015-10-13
Queer Bits Film Festival becomes two programs of international LGBTQ+ shorts 2015-10-12
MOVIES Talking with 'Freeheld' screenwriter Ron Nyswaner 2015-10-07
THEATER All Girl Dracula: Interview with the vampire and a director 2015-10-07
First UK LBQ Web series makes transatlantic debut 2015-10-07
KNIGHT AT THE MOVIES 'Freeheld' kicks off fall 2015-10-07
LGBT HISTORY MONTH P.L. Travers: A spoonful of speculation 2015-10-07
IMPACT seeks persons for HIV video 2015-10-06
Entertainment news: Gaga; Ian McKellen; Ruby Rose; Matt Damon 2015-09-29
PASSAGES Honey Lee Cottrell 2015-09-26
VIEWS Dis-membering Stonewall 2015-09-23
MOVIES Stonewall: Brick layers 2015-09-23
Reeling Film Festival: Into the homostretch 2015-09-23
'Easy Abby' Web series raising funds for second season 2015-09-23
Knight at the Movies: Fall LGBT movie preview 2015-09-23
Bully Project uses film, education, litigation to assist schools 2015-09-23
Trans groups, allies protest Stonewall screening 2015-09-23
1985 MOVIES 2015-09-23
Reeling turns ripe old age of 33 2015-09-22
"Not a Sin" film highlights religious rejection, homelessness among LGBT youth 2015-09-21
Emmy wins exhibit diversity 2015-09-21

Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.