BY Brandon Voss
December 21 2010 8:10 PM ET
A former TV heartthrob beloved for the 1960s series Dr. Kildare and the 1983 miniseries The Thorn Birds — though perhaps better known to younger gay viewers for his post-millennial guest spots on Nip/Tuck, Desperate Housewives, and Will & Grace — Richard Chamberlain officially came out in 2003 with the release of his memoir, Shattered Love. Now 76 and playing an HIV-positive love interest for Ron Rifkin’s Uncle Saul on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters, which returns January 2 after a holiday hiatus, Chamberlain explains why other gay leading men would be unwise to follow in his footsteps.
The Advocate:Your last chat with The Advocate was in January 2004, so it’s good to catch up. You did a ton of other press around that time to promote your tell-all memoir, but you know that a celebrity’s coming-out isn’t really official until they’ve spoken to The Advocate.
Richard Chamberlain: [Laughs] That’s right. Absolutely.
Congratulations on your new role on Brothers & Sisters. Were you a fan of the show before you got the part?
I liked the show a lot, but I hadn’t watched as regularly as I do since I got the job. It’s an incredible show. What an unbelievable cast! Ron Rifkin is an actor of astounding ability. He’s so good that when I play a scene with him, I find that I almost get distracted just watching the wonderful things that he’s doing. We had mutual friends, but we hadn’t met before this. We’ve been getting along extremely well.
Tell me about your character, Jonathan.
My character met Ron’s character, Saul, back in the ’80s. Saul was a serious kind of guy, but Jonathan was a heartbreaking playboy at that time. As revealed in my first episode, Jonathan may have been the one who gave Saul HIV in the ’80s, though Jonathan didn’t even remember that they had slept together. Saul isn’t at all happy about seeing me again. That’s about as much as has been revealed on the show so far, and I’m told that I mustn’t reveal anything else.
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