Sharon Gless (Finally) Goes Gay

She’s best known for playing the role of an outspoken, eccentric, overbearing PFLAG mom on Queer as Folk, a tough cop named Cagney on Cagney & Lacey, and most recently the mouthy mother on Burn Notice. But Sharon Gless has returned to gay and lesbian audiences playing a new kind of role: an actual lesbian.

BY Byron Flitsch

December 17 2008 1:00 AM ET

She’s best
known for playing the role of an outspoken, eccentric,
overbearing PFLAG mom on Queer as Folk, a tough
cop named Cagney on Cagney & Lacey, and
most recently the mouthy mother on Burn Notice.
But Sharon Gless has returned to gay and lesbian audiences
playing a new kind of role: an actual lesbian.

Hannah Free, a film adapted from the play by
Claudia Allen, tells the story of two women, Hannah (played
by Gless) and Rachel, who grow up together in a small
town and develop an undying love for each other.
Due to the social ramifications of homosexuality in
their generation, their love goes through trials as Rachel
chooses to live a traditional, heterosexual life while
Hannah continues on as an unapologetic lesbian. The
plot follows a nonlinear timeline, weaving scenes set
in the past and present, letting the audience see who the
two lovers once were and what they have become.

Gless just
wrapped production on the film in Chicago, where she sat
down with Advocate.com to talk about the movie and how
it relates to Prop. 8.

Advocate.com:You’re shooting Hannah Free in Chicago.
How’s the city been treating you so far?
Sharon Gless: I love Chicago. I haven’t
had too much of a chance to see it. I’m here on the
set for the majority of it and get to stay in a coach
house behind the house we’re filming in. When
I’m there, I’m memorizing lines. I did,
though, get to see Lily Tomlin, which was exciting.

So, I’m not going to lie. To prepare I watched
you as one my favorite characters you have played,
Debbie on Queer ss Folk. What I enjoy about your
career is that you’ve played the role of
Cagney, which was inspirational to lesbians.
You’ve played a role on Queer as
Folk
that was extremely supportive of the LGBT
community, and now you’re actually playing
a gay person. How does it feel to finally
“be” one of us?
I love it! It’s very natural to me. I
mean, I’m constantly reminding myself that
I’m playing a lesbian. But to me, it’s just
another character. It’s not too different than
playing other roles because it isn’t about just
being gay. It’s about love. In this case, I’m
just in love with a woman.

You’re also working with a cast made up almost
entirely of women. How’s that working out?
Everyone is great! It’s fun. Especially seeing
the woman that plays the 30-year-old version of me in
the flashback scenes. She looks just like me!
It’s great to be surrounded by a very talented
collection of women.

Now, the film is based on a play?Yes, a play by Claudia Allen, who also wrote the
screenplay for the film. It’s a very excellent
piece. Claudia is a great friend of mine. We first
worked together to do a radio show that Claudia wrote at
[Chicago theater company] Victory Gardens in the early
'90s. Then, in 2000, Claudia invited me to do another
play at Victory Gardens. It was very fortuitous too,
working with Claudia. I was coming to Chicago to do that
show in 2000 when I was offered a script for a part on
Queer as Folk. That show changed my life, and
the opportunity to play this part of Hannah and work with
Claudia again just seemed fitting, especially being
able to come back to Chicago to play it.

Tags: film

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