Sarah Paulson: The gay interview

CAROL

Out actress Sarah Paulson in the acclaimed new drama ‘Carol.’

By Chis Azzopardi

What does Sarah Paulson remember about the first time she kissed a girl? “Nothing that I’m going to tell you!” she teases, laughing as if to say “nice try.”

Not that the actress’ entire life is a secret. It hasn’t been. In 2005, when then-girlfriend Cherry Jones was named a winner at the Tony Awards, Paulson planted a sweet kiss on Jones’ lips. But the 40-year-old acting dynamo isn’t one to kiss and tell — a practice extending to many aspects of her public life, which she’s regulated for a reason: so as not to distract from the stories she’s a part of telling.

Those stories are wide-ranging. In addition to her chameleonic roles in Ryan Murphy’s FX hit American Horror Story, where she’s currently playing a hip ’80s-inspired druggie named Sally, she stars as Cate Blanchett’s former flame, Abby, in writer-director Todd Haynes’ powerful lesbian love story Carol, reviewed in this week’s Hollywood Issue of Dallas Voice. In the film, Blanchett plays a married woman with a passionate desire for a department store clerk named Therese (Rooney Mara). But it’s the 1950s — homosexuality is taboo, and the closet doors are closed. Paulson’s story is a different one, however. And the doors? They’re mostly open.

Dallas Voice: How do you reflect on your accidental coming out?  Sarah Paulson: I was very young, and I was in love. It was the reality of the person I was with. She just won a Tony Award — I’m not gonna pat her on the back, give her the big thumbs up and say, “Go up there and get your award, sweetie.” It was not a really conscious thought. I didn’t think of what the implications were gonna be. I just did what was true and honest to me in that moment.

The truth is, it was early enough in my career that there have been no attachments made to me as a performer. I think the thing that makes it somewhat easier in terms of there not having been ramifications is that I’m a character actress — nobody is assigning a particular kind of sexual anything to me, I don’t think. Maybe that’s totally not true. But it just seems if you’re sort of known for being a sex kitten and that’s how you come on the scene, and then you end up being a total femme fatale actress, and then all of a sudden you make a statement about your sexuality, it becomes news. Whereas I’m a character actress; I can do a lot of things. I don’t think anybody’s made one particular association with me that would then make them go, “Well, I can’t see her this way now.”

You do seem to put your career before your personal life.  I do think it’s more important, and I know that Matt Damon got a terrible amount of flak for the way he phrased those things [earlier this year, he said: “People shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play”], but the sentiment is still true: My personal life… I’m not gonna hide it from you, but I also don’t want you to think about that before you think about the character I’m playing. And so I want that to be of paramount importance — it’s of paramount importance to me that you believe the story I’m trying to be a part of telling you, and if my personal life is going to get in the way of that, I don’t like that at all. LOS ANGELES - JUN 11:  Sarah Paulson at the "American Horror Sto

Have you been strategic, then, in what you reveal to the public?  The thing with Cherry was very accidental. And, again, I was very young. If it happened to me today, I don’t know what I would do necessarily. I really don’t. I think what I’d like to think is that I would just be who I am and whomever I was with, if I had won an award or they had won award or if it was some kind of public thing, I would not do what I would do simply because I was afraid of being revealed. I don’t think that would be a choice I would make. But I think it was hard a bit because when she and I broke up [in 2009] there were some public statements said by her in, I think, an accidental way that ended up being hurtful to me, so I’ve been very kind of careful now about what I’m willing to talk about in terms of specifics.

So, it’s not been strategic; it’s been life experience. I’ve learned lessons, and therefore I behave in different ways now, and they are not in ways I’m upset about or ways that I think are not good. But like for Therese in Carol, you live and you learn and you come into your own and you start to be responsible for your own power and your own choices and what you’re willing to reveal. At the end of the day, I put enough of my interior life on camera when I’m acting by giving as much of myself as I possibly can – I don’t have to give everything to everyone.

Did working on a movie about repressed sexuality have you reflecting on your own sexuality?  What it really made me think about is the power of love and how, at the end of the day, love is love, period. The end. It sounds cliché, but I think most clichés are clichés because they’re very, very true. And it’s very interesting, because I’ve been with men and women, and [the movie] puts a very fine point on that truth, which is that it’s very personal and that love is love, and sometimes you love a person you weren’t expecting to love — and how glorious is that?

How would you describe Abby’s relationship with Carol?  Carol and Abby were former lovers, for sure. But it was brief and it was much more meaningful to Abby than it was to Carol. In the scene with Cate at the bar, when we’re having our martinis and I say, “I hope you know what you’re doing,” about Therese, I basically say, we can just go back and have that furniture store in New Jersey and Carol basically says no. That is my 1952 way of saying, “Let’s try this again.” It’s code for, “Let’s make out.” Carol doesn’t want that with Abby. For me, what I was interested in portraying and making sure was there was that sort of sadness that Abby has — that light and love for Carol that’s not reciprocated – but still, that she would rather be in Carol’s orbit in any way that she can be, so she will be a friend to her no matter what.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Zachary Quinto: The gay interview

ZacharyQuinto1“Oh, Jesus.”

Zachary Quinto is aptly responding to the fact that, yes, despite establishing himself as an Emmy-nominated actor with versatility, out-of-this-world talent and some of the best eyebrows in the biz, he once starred on an episode of Touched by An Angel.

He isn’t reacting to being on the show, per se – he just can’t believe it’s been nearly 15 years.

Since then, Quinto has made major shifts beyond his transformation to leading man. After matter-of-factly coming out to the masses in 2011, he became an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community and has notably taken on subjects such as PReP and gay teen suicide.

The 38-year-old’s sexuality is a non-issue when it comes to his meandering career on TV, in film and on Broadway, as his varied typecast-defying roles demonstrate: Sylar on NBC’s Heroes, Quinto’s breakout role; the infamous American Horror Story killer Bloody Face; James Franco’s lover in I Am Michael; and, of course, Spock, the Star Trek icon he brought back to the big screen, ears and all. (He’s currently shooting Star Trek Beyond, the reboot franchise’s third installment.)

Quinto’s latest big-screen endeavor, released this past weekend, is the video game-inspired Hitman: Agent 47, wherein he dials up the badassery as a CIA agent you definitely do not want to cross. A major studio-produced action movie featuring… an out gay actor? You better believe it.

As he swings open the door on a traditionally gay-less genre by breaking down Hollywood stereotypes, Quinto spoke to us about recognizing his unique place as the go-to gay when it comes to action flicks and how he “definitely” thinks the world is ready for a gay James Bond. Plus, why he believes, despite the recent Supreme Court ruling on marriage, our fight for equality is far from over.

Dallas Voice: Hitman centers on an assassin who’s genetically engineered as the perfect killing machine. If you could be engineered to do anything you wanted, what would that be?  Quinto: If I could just travel anywhere at any time and somehow my genetic modification allowed me to transport somewhere, I imagine that would be a pretty useful genetic modification that I would get a lot of pleasure out of. No jet lag!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A very gay Emmy slate

Laverne Cox

NOTE: Edited to reflect more gay characters.

When the Emmy Award nominations came out yesterday, it was nice to see some gay-popular nominations of the list. But when you counted through all of them, an amazing eight LGBT actors were nominated. There are 96 acting categories (more if you count the variety category), so that’s not exactly a majority, but if you add in those who appeared in “gay” shows, or played gay characters, it goes up.

Laverne Cox, of course, became the first (known) trans performer to be nominated for an Emmy (and for guest actress, which is awesome) for Orange is the New Black. But other openly gay performers include Sarah Paulson (best actress in a miniseries, American Horror Story: Coven), three of the five performers from the movie The Normal Heart (Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons and Joe Mantello), plus a second nomination for Parsons as lead actor/comedy for The Big Bang Theory; Jesse Tyler Ferguson, best supporting actor from Modern Family; and Nathan Lane, for his guest appearance on Modern Family. And wanna add Kevin Spacey for House of Cards? Let’s go ahead and call it nine.

JESSE TYLER FERGUSON

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Performers playing LGBT characters include Taylor Schilling, Natasha Lyonne and Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black; Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart; Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Fred Armisen (for some of the many characters he plays in Portlandia); Beau Bridges as the closeted provost as guest actor in Masters of Sex; Spacey also had a three-way in House of Cards which you can count if you wanna (I wanna). That gives 17 gay actors or gay characters in the race. Congrats!

And congrats especially to former Dallasite Allison Tolman, nominated for supporting actress in a miniseries for Fargo.

After the jump are the major nominees.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Emmy noms: Some of the gay stuff

The Emmy nominations came out this morning, and the details of them can be hashed over in the coming month, but I wanted to point out a few gay interest items on the list:

• Modern Family continues to dominate the comedy category, with the entire adult cast again snagging nominations, as well as for directing, writing, comedy series and guest actor/comedy Greg Kinnear.

• Once again, officially out actor Jim Parsons looks like the sure thing for actor/comedy for The Big Bang Theory, unless 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin makes a comeback. His co-star Mayim Bialik was also nominated, but not Johnny Galecki. The show is also up for best comedy series.

• American Horror Story, created by Glee mastermind Ryan Murphy, was nominated in the miniseries category, including nods for miniseries, actress/mini Connie Britton, supporting actor/mini for gay thesp Denis O’Hare and two for supporting actress/mini — Frances Conroy and shoo-in winner Jessica Lange.

• Game of Thrones is again in contention, though only last year’s winner — Peter Dinklage for supporting actor/drama — is nominated for acting. The show has lots of nudity (including men!) and this last season a great gay storyline.

• One of the most welcome nominations was for Kathryn Joosten, who died just days after her touchingly hard-scrabble performance on Desperate Housewives ended with her death, was nominated for supporting actress/comedy. She’d won twice before in the guest actress category. Not in the supporting category? Previous winner Jane Lynch of Glee; Chris Colfer of Glee was also overlooked.

• The reality competition program continues to play it safe — in the history of the category, The Amazing Race has won every year except one, when Top Chef sneaked in. When will RuPaul — the show and the host — get the credit she deserves?!?!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones