For years, Robert Gant entertained audiences on the Showtime series Queer as Folk as kind-hearted professor Ben. Now, he has moved on to other projects—notably, the here!TV movie Kiss Me Deadly: A Jacob Keane Assignment, where he plays the title character ( a spy who happens to be gay ) opposite Shannen Doherty. Gant discussed various aspects of the movie with Windy City Times—and also talked a little bit about coming out and politics.
Robert Gant and Shannen Doherty in Kiss Me Deadly. Photo courtesy of here! TV
Windy City Times: Could you tell our readers what Kiss Me Deadly is about?
Robert Gant: It's about a guy who has this past as a spy. He was a spy behind the [ Berlin ] Wall back in the day. We start this movie just before the wall falls and he—along with Marta, a spy cohort—no longer becomes relevant because the life he knows ceases to exist.
So he's a retired spy. He's now a photographer; he has a child and a partner he loves. At the top of the film, his past, in the form of Marta, shows up out of nowhere—and she can't remember anything except that people are after her. So Jacob is dragged very begrudgingly back into that life he wanted nothing more to do with.
The film, in many ways, is about moving him back into something that's so threaded into his fabric. Fight it as he may, he's taken on the garb again and has assumed the role he had long since put aside. So the film sets him up to be the spy again.
WCT: Speaking of which—and without getting too specific—I was wondering if that very last scene was more business or pleasure for your character.
RG: I think it's supposed to have that ambiguity. The guy [ that Keane talks with ] is an operative, and he's coming to Jacob with an assignment, but there's clearly some energy. I think that [ scene ] launches him into what he's going to become.
WCT: So we can expect a whole franchise or series?
RG: I suppose so. It's up to the here! network, but I think that's what they've been talking about—and [ the following movies ] will be even more sexy and exciting.
WCT: That's going to be kind of hard to top [ Gant laughs ] , because there's plenty of eye candy for men and women, like [ villain ] Ian Roberts.
RG: Yes, there is—and I think that's definitely intentional. Yet, at the same time, one of the cool things is that [ Jacob ] just happens to be gay; it's part of the back story of who he is. He represents a role model, of sorts, in the fictitious realm. We're beginning to have a number of role models in life. Over the many years, we have [ individuals ] that young [ gay ] people can look to who will cause them to feel better about themselves. One thing we haven't had—but that straight people have had—are these fictional characters like Superman and various superheroes and spies. This opens up a new door, and [ having a character like Jacob ] continues to move us forward; this pushes us to a place we haven't been to before. And it was a heck of a lot of fun; I've always wanted to do an action film. It was a terrific experience, and I loved the director. It was also nice to get a bit of a detour from the heavier, dramatic stuff, which I love as well.
WCT: What was it like working with Shannen Doherty? People have said and heard so many things about her.
RG: Honestly, it was great; she was a trouper. I had the same kind of uncertainty, and I think that she has matured and come into her own as a person. She was committed to showing up and being professional and doing good work. At the same time, one of the wonderful things about her is that she has this great diva quality—in a good way. She's strong and has a real sense of power. One reason that gay men are drawn to diva-type women is that [ these women ] buck the system. She was really great, and we had a really great time talking about boys and other things.
WCT: You filmed this movie in New Zealand, which is one of my dream destinations. What was that like?
RG: Unfortunately, I was under such a time constraint that I got there, worked nonstop and had to leave immediately after [ filming ] . So I was in and around Auckland the whole time. It was great, but it's not overly distinctive. But I look forward to going back and having that whole other experience.
However, I love the people. They're so real, authentic, easygoing and fun.
WCT: Now, I want to talk about being out. I recently spoke with a singer who said that, essentially, there is no reason for anyone to not be out in show business. How do you feel about that statement?
RG: Wow. I don't agree, not even a little bit. I think that people get to their truth when and how they get to it. It's a little presumptuous of me to try to contemplate what anyone else's experience has been.
I had a tough time when I first came out. The family experience was one that certainly did not foster being out in any shape or form—and I know of examples that were much more severe than mine. 'No reason?' Well, I think that people have their own processes for finding out the truth. Quite honestly, it doesn't inherently serve us to have someone on the front line who isn't happy with who they are; they're likely to be self-destructive or what have you. They have to move beyond self-loathing or self-judgment.
It would be great if everyone were out, but it needs to happen in an organic way. To say that everyone must be out is a bit nonsensical to me; it doesn't make any sense.
The other part of the 'no-reason' thing is that some people feel that their ability to earn would be diminished [ if they came out ] , and that may or may not be true. I'm sure that there are parts I haven't gotten because I'm openly gay, and I know that there are parts I have gotten because I'm openly gay. I can't speak to the experience that anyone else would have. It does feel presumptuous for me to know what anyone else's experience is going to be.
[ Gant is told that the singer is in his early 20s. ]
Well, that's why. I get it. I think it's great that someone is in that kind of a place for themselves, where they can't fathom why someone might hold back. Maybe a younger person did not face the same kind of discrimination and benefited from having lots of role models. Maybe it's youthful naivete—I don't know. I look forward to everyone feeling the wherewithal to be who they are.
WCT: On the political front, you have been involved in a gay-vote mobilization effort.
RG: Yes. I feel that we have some talented people who are options for us, and I have a perspective about using one of our great potential candidates too soon; I feel like we'd shoot ourselves in the foot. But it's just one perspective.
We're looking at two people with powerful potential, so we have some significant options. But it's been great for me to know what I feel. The game plan I have mapped out in my head is 16 years of Democrats in the White House and, most important, there are the Supreme Court justice nominees who would go with 16 years of what I see as Hillary-Hillary-Barack-Barack. That's a thrilling prospect, [ but ] who knows what will unfold? I'm open to whatever shows itself. At the end of the day, all I do is advocate on behalf of what I believe [ in ] and trust the results.
Kiss Me Deadly: A Jacob Keane Assignment will air on here! throughout May. Visit www.heretv.com to find out more.