Jonathan Scarfe: Open Bar

Raising the Bar's Jonathan Scarfe dishes about what's next for his newly out character — and why he seems destined to play gay opposite Saved by the Bell alums.

BY Brandon Voss

June 05 2009 12:00 AM ET

Do you feel any pressure to represent the gay community respectfully?
Yes, I do. That's why I really want them to explore a personal relationship; otherwise, I feel like it's chickening out. If I'm going to have this coming-out story line, I don't want it to then get dropped away because they're shy about exploring a gay relationship. We've gotten into all kinds of discussions about how we were going to proceed with Charlie, because, knowing my friend's situation, I felt there were places where we weren't being truthful. I was very concerned that it would become a sort of gimmick.

What sort of feedback have you gotten about Charlie's coming-out?
I've had a really positive response. People have come up to me and said they love the character or it's their favorite character on the show. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he's one of the more complicated characters on the show, so he's more compelling. But I don't hear from that many people because I live on a tiny island in middle of nowhere off the coast of Vancouver, so I was out of the country the whole time the show was airing. This season I'll actually be around when it starts airing because we'll still be shooting.

The other big change in season 2 is that Mark-Paul has chopped off his long mane. Do you prefer the new 'do or the old 'do?
I'm definitely a fan of the new 'do.

Were you a fan of Mark-Paul from his Saved by the Bell days?
No. [Laughs] I was already working back then.

You played Greg Louganis's boyfriend Keith in the 1997 TV movie Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story, which starred Mario Lopez as Louganis. What was it like to play Mario's love interest?
It was hilarious. Yeah, how weird is that? Two times that I've played a gay character and it's been opposite someone from Saved by the Bell? Mario's a very, very sweet guy, but he always struck me as more of a jock than an actor. I don't know what else to say, because I don't want to say anything bad about the guy. [Laughs] Actually, the best part of that job was getting to meet Greg Louganis, because he was a lovely guy.

According to IMDb, you also appeared in two episodes of The L Word. You've certainly covered all your bases in building a gay fan base.
Oh, I forgot about that! I played a gay character in that too. There were these group therapy sessions, and I was one half of a gay couple that was trying to adopt a child.

As a fellow Canadian, it must've been exciting to star opposite Alanis Morissette in the upcoming sci-fi film Radio Free Albemuth.
It was fun to get to work with her because it's a much bigger part than she's played in the past. But I'd actually met her a few times before because she was engaged to a friend of mine a long time ago. So I wasn't starstruck, because I've already seen her with a cup of coffee in her hand at 6:30 in the morning.

Tags: Television

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