All in the Family



RON RIFKIN 3 X390 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COMWhile I have you on the phone, I have to ask you about two projects in particular that are, of course, quite loved among gay audiences. On Sex and the City, of course, you play Julian, who takes a liking to Carrie Bradshaw at Vogue.
Oh, yes ... that part was written for me. My character’s wife, if you remember, was a dancer. Iva and I are very close with Sarah Jessica. We’re family, she’s extended family and continues to be. We did Robbie’s play together, Substance of Fire, she played my daughter in that, and then we did the movie version together. We go back a long time. As a matter of fact, when Sarah and Matthew got married, they spent the night with us the night before so the wedding wouldn’t be divulged. So, for me, it was just delightful. It was the first year of Alias, I remember, and we had to get permission from Sarah Caplan, the producer, to be able to get me out of L.A. to New York to do the show. When I saw it, the producers gave me a copy of it, they were so excited ... I got a little freaked out by it because I’m so close to Sarah, and in the scene where I came on to her, it kind of weirded me out. But she’s the best. People still stop me about that. They go, “Hey, Cookie.” I guess I refer to her as Cookie in the show ... it’s funny.

Well, it’s one of the more memorable episodes of the show.
Yeah, and we got to shoot in the actually Vogue closet.

That must have been a trip.
It was a trip. It definitely was. That’s where I wore my Versace underpants.

How about Cabaret? [Rifkin won a Tony as Herr Schultz in the 1998 revival.]

Oh. That was wonderful. That was just a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was the same way that J.J. [Abrams] had some vision about Alias. When I first met J.J., we talked about me playing the father of Sydney. I had no idea he was really interested in me playing the evil one. I don’t think most people would have ever cast me in a role like that. But he saw something that was dormant in me and understood it and wanted it. I think that was magical, and the way Sam [Mendes] put together Cabaret — as a matter of a fact, I just got off the phone with John Hickey ... he was in Cabaret, now he’s on The Big C. That experience was amazing. I was in Cabaret for a year and a half, and it was one of the great experiences of my life.

Is there any role or character that you haven’t yet played that you’d like to?
I don’t really think in those terms, you know. I mean, I’m always attracted to roles that have some dimension and some challenge for me. I enjoy playing complicated characters. I’m complicated. Just ask my wife. Both of these roles have been very challenging for me, Alias and Brothers & Sisters. The thing about Arvin Sloane [his character on Alias] that was very challenging the first year, the dialogue I had was mostly exposition. A lot of foreign names and long, long speeches. I would get up at 3 a.m. and just start saying the words. Very challenging but also very satisfying for me. I love language, I love the theater, I love words.

There are rumors out there that this is going to be the last season of Brothers & Sisters. Do you get any sense of that?

I really don’t know that I can speak to that, but I think for me it would be if it was to go on. I think for me it would be.

Any change they could make to the character that would change that for you?

Yeah, of course. If they made it more interesting for me, of course, I would definitely consider it, but as it’s moving along now, I don’t see me being interested enough to go on with the show.

Tags: television