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Jason Stuart on gay actors, stand-up act
MOVIES
by Joe Franco
2012-02-01

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Jason Stuart's own web bio begins: "When you think one of the most prolific character actors, who's also an outrageous openly gay stand-up comedian, one name comes to mind … Jason Stuart. Stuart has been making people laugh out loud with his hysterical performances all over the country since coming out in 1993."

Stuart has been entertaining audiences across the country with his stand-up as well as appearances in numerous films and television shows including, most recently, The Closer with Kyra Sedgwick, Will & Grace and the 2002 film Ten Attitudes, which featured Stuart as the main protagonist. Nowadays, Stuart is still busy acting and doing stand-up and as always, advocating for the visibility of out gay actors.

Windy City Times: An April 2010 Newsweek article claimed "Gay actors cannot play it straight." Any thoughts?

Jason Stuart: Well, when I heard that I thought of a couple things. First, when people go to see a play, watch TV or go to a movie, they really just want to see something good. I don't think people care as much as others think about the sexuality of an actor. Secondly, I think the media cares more than people care about an actor's private life. It's about the media trying to sell papers. There's also this issue with who gets to be a "leading man" in Hollywood. It's called the Tom Cruise Street. You have to give up an awful lot to get on that street and stay there.

WCT: You created and founded the Screen Actors' Guild [SAG] LGBT Committee as a "support system" for your fellow gay actors. Is there room for gay actors who are not yet out in the committee?

JS: I started the committee nearly 10 years ago and I'm really proud of it. No, we're now in the process of doing a survey of out actors to help them land better roles. The gay actors are fine with the process. It really should be about the best actor getting the role. We're trying to do just that.

As far as closeted gay actors, we don't have any in the SAG LGBT Committee. Why would there be? Those closeted gay actors seem okay with staying in there, but after a while, those hatboxes and shit starts getting in the way. Every now and then, someone flashes a light in there. Not to change the subject, but do you know who just beeped in and I actually ignored her call so I could keep talking to you?

WCT: No. Who?

JS: 1987 Academy Award Nominee Sally Kirkland! Before I called you, I was on the phone with Judy Tenuta. See. So I'm a name-dropper.

WCT: "Don't keep people in boxes—let them soar" is a quote from your December 2011 Huffington Post column concerning the mission of SAG's LGBT Committee. How do you accomplish that?

JS: We have film festivals. We promote different films. We're offering a casting seminar this August for openly gay actors. Our group is seeking to get the best possible healthcare for our members that have partners and not spouses. We've helped change the language in contracts to be more gay-friendly. Most remarkable of all is that it's mostly volunteers who do all of this work.

WCT: What are your thoughts on the way movies and television portray gay individuals or the way gay actors portray straight individuals?

JS: Well, it's really all about the actor and the ability for the actor to play a role. I mean really, who is the last gay character, other than the Modern Family gays? Maybe the Glee kids? Lately, there hasn't been as much visibility. There's Jane Lynch, but she's supposedly playing a heterosexual gym teacher. When's the last time you've even met a heterosexual gym teacher? Ryan Murphy is a crazy one!

WCT: So you have a new film coming out, K-11. It's a debut film from Jules Mann-Stewart. How did you land that role?

JS: When I got the script, I thought the role was a big, old mean gay guy. But it turned out to be a big, old mean straight guy. The film takes place in California prison. It's set in a fictitious holding area for gay men. Everything was kept quiet about the film. The director even chastised me for putting pictures of me and the title character on my Facebook page.

I was told though that K-11 is premiering at the Berlin Film Festival in February, so that's almost a sure thing.

WCT: Now, you're also doing another project called The Guest House. Where is that in terms of production?

JS: Oh, well we're just starting production in a week or so. I was told that the role was MADE for me. I get to play another straight guy. I'm a total asshole. I'm not sure how that makes me feel, though.

WCT: You're still doing stand-up. What kind of material do you workout?

JS: Yes. I'm still doing stand-up. I talk a lot about getting older, my insane family and politics—right now, the Republican candidates. If Mitt Romney wins the general election, are there enough bedrooms in the White House for all of the sister wives? Honestly—how big is that Lincoln Bedroom, anyway?

WCT: In a 2008 WCT interview you mentioned that gay men were not at the "point where they could promote themselves [in stand-up]." Do you still feel that way?

JS: It's really up to the media, you guys. Gays make their own stars. Coverage like this is something I really appreciate. It's all in the way you spin things. Look at Kathy Griffin. She pretended to be this D-List celebrity so she could talk to her audience. It worked for her. In terms of openly gay comics today, I think Scott Silverman is terrific! I also love New York's Brad Loekoe. I think I have a little crush on him.

WCT: How do you feel about Chicago? What do you want to your fans here?

JS: I LOVE the men there. I always have a great time when I'm in town. So if there are any guys there who can relocate to L.A. and want to fall in love and are sexy and smart—send them my way.

For more information on Jason Stuart, including his biography, filmography and upcoming tour dates, visit www.jasonstuart.com .


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