Out actor Leslie Jordan may have finally landed his dream role of Sid on a new television show called The Cool Kids.
Brought by executive producer Charlie Day, the series stars David Alan Grier, Martin Mull and Vicki Lawrence along with Jordan, and is the story of four friends living in a retirement community who get into screwball situations.
This makes his first regular cast member role in a series since Hearts Afire in 1995. His many guest appearances on television include Boston Legal, Ugly Betty and Reba. He received an Emmy for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Will & Grace.
Movie credits include Sordid Lives, The Help and Leslie Jordan: My Trip Down the Pink Carpet.
Windy City Times: Are you thrilled about your new show?
Leslie Jordan: Yes. For something like this to fall in my lap at age 63 is great because I think it will have some longevity.
My manager called and said something was cooking at Fox from the boys that wrote Always Sunny in Philadelphia. They are so cute and just adorable. They are big ol' straight boys!
We all had to audition. Some actor's managers will call and say that they don't audition. That is bullshit. Meryl Streep auditions. There is nothing worse that showing up and not being right for the part.
WCT: Talk about your part as Sid in The Cool Kids.
LJ: I had reservations because Sid was a 73-year-old, straight, Jewish man from Brooklyn. A lot of my lines were "meh." I walked in and said, "I'm going to put a different spin on this!"
Now, Sid is an aging gay man. There is an aging African-American man, [and] an aging, quite straight hippy full of conspiracy theories and Republican ideas. Vicki Lawrence plays a woman of a certain age, and we are all best friends. It is about friendship and deals with a gay man growing old.
I have had many gay men write for me, from Del Shores to Ryan Murphy, but this is so different because it is not the nail on the head. It is a roomful of straight boys, but they are so open to suggestions.
They had me in drag on the second episode. David Alan Grier asked me if there were any gay men that don't do drag. I said, "Yes, of course." I have done drag so much, I thought maybe there is a better way to say things without it. It was a hilarious episode about catfishing. I didn't even know what that was…
I go online because my character has had success on Grindr and try to help my straight friends. I make up a character named Destiny and both the men fall in love with her. Vicki Lawrence says, "Honey, you are not going to be able to land this plane!" I walk out in a wig and she says they will know who I am.
The writers were able to make it the right way for the gay community. We are not tackling big issues. This is The Golden Girls on crack! Our biggest problem is that the four of us have no moral compass. People get stabbed. We crawl through windows trying to get into clubs. I fall into a urinal.
WCT: I saw in the pilot you have some really great one-liners.
LJ: I do. I love the fact that the characters on Cool Kids don't care that he's gay.
WCT: Who's the Blanche Devereaux of the group?
LJ: I am. They have really tailored these characters to us. This is the first time I ever been allowed to play me. From someone who came from the background I did with so much internalized homophobia growing up I can now look you in the eyes and say I am one hundred percent comfortable with who and what I am.
It is a marriage between Charlie Day, from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Patrick Walsh, from 2 Broke Girls. They have created a playground that is so safe. We shoot in front of a live audience.
WCT: How does a multi-camera show differ from other projects you have worked on?
LJ: The last hour show I did was American Horror Story and I don't know how they do it. They have 5:30 a.m. makeup calls and work until the sun goes down.
With three camera it is amazing. We come in on a Monday and do a little table read. We will go on the set to rehearse until 1 p.m. then we go home. We come in on Tuesday and will get it ready for the Fox people then go home by 3:00 p.m. We never have a call before 10 a.m. On Wednesday, we show it to the network so a little stressful, but not bad. On Thursday, we camera-block all day and, [on] Friday, we bring in the audience. It is the best gig in the world!
WCT: I saw actor Jamie Farr on the first episode. Is this giving opportunities for people that are overlooked in Hollywood?
LJ: Absolutely. We want to trot everyone out. That's our plan. I am fighting for Tina Louise to play my mother! I told Vicki to ask Carol Burnett and Lyle Waggoner.
Jamie Farr is 84 and was so happy to be there for the job. He was willing to do anything we asked. People just want to work. That older group has been so overlooked.
One time, Debbie Reynolds told me that a casting girl asked her what she had done and she said, "I'm Debbie fucking Reynolds. That's what I've done!"
WCT: Are you going to be back on American Horror Story?
LJ: No. This time it is a recap of Coven and some of the other seasons. I saw Ryan Murphy at the up-fronts in New York and we talked a bit, but I am not on it.
I am back on Will & Grace; I can only do two episodes. When Fox pays you that kind of money for series regulars, there are a lot of rules. I told them I won an Emmy for that show so they allowed me to do two. If Will & Grace goes up against Cool Kids in the same time slot, I can't do any.
WCT: Are you doing any upcoming one-man shows?
LJ: I am. I have one called Exposed. I had to cancel Provincetown this year so I can only do it on a Saturday night because of shooting. I am going to San Francisco to host a GLAAD event and Dallas doing Exposed for the Legacy Counseling Center in a few weeks.
My fee has gone up. I keep thinking they won't pay it, but they do!
WCT: Do you ever go back to Tennessee?
LJ: I do. We have long hiatuses during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I am bringing my mom, her sister, who is almost 90, and my identical twin sister out for a taping. This is the first time they have traveled in a really long time. The greatest thing I ever did was buy them a place in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The house is so beautiful. It looks like Laura Ashley threw up in there!
The Cool Kids runs Fridays on Fox.