When John Stamos suited up for the cover of The Advocate in 2006, he was playing doctor on ER and promoting his role as a gay wedding planner striking for marriage equality rights in the A&E original movie Wedding Wars. The former General Hospital heartthrob best known as Uncle Jesse on the hit family sitcom Full House is now performing to full houses as mama’s boy Albert Peterson in the first Broadway revival of the Tony-winning 1960 musical Bye Bye Birdie, which opened October 15 at Henry Miller’s Theatre. The eternally youthful 46-year-old called Advocate.com to confess his campy obsession with Birdie costar Gina Gershon and the boozy truth behind that now-infamous Australian morning show interview.
Advocate.com: When The Advocate last spoke with you, Wedding Wars hadn’t aired yet. Were you happy with the response to the film?
John Stamos: You guys were so nice to put me on the cover, by the way. But to be honest, I was a little disappointed because it didn’t get the ratings I thought it should, and I promoted the hell out of that thing. I’m not sure the network was completely behind it, and I really wish they’d at least play it again during this important time. With everything that was going on with Prop. 8 in the last year, I begged A&E to replay the movie, but they wouldn’t do it. That really upset me and [executive producer] Craig Zadan.
Did you get any negative reaction to your support of marriage equality, like angry letters from Christian groups or conservative fans turning on you?
No, not at all, but I wouldn’t have cared anyway. My dad always told me to stay out of politics and religion, which I have for most of my career, but when that movie came up and I felt so strongly about it, I had to do it. You know, for better or worse and whatever happened with my own marriage [to Rebecca Romijn], I remember how excited I was to propose to someone and have that day in front of all my friends and family to say, “This is who I love and want to spend the rest of my life with.” I guess it’s just a simple, surfacey thing, but how can you not allow someone to have those same beautiful feelings? That’s why I did that movie.
You’re great as Albert in Bye Bye Birdie, but I was most excited to see the revival because I had ripped off Paul Lynde when I played Mr. MacAfee in my high school production. It was interesting to watch your costar Bill Irwin’s fresh yet still somewhat effeminate take on that role.
Well, it doesn’t get much more effeminate than Paul Lynde. There’s almost nobody who could make you forget about Paul Lynde other than Bill Irwin — I don’t know how he came up with his character. But that’s the challenge of the show: It’s hard to get people to forget about the old people who played these characters.
Yeah, it’s kind of a shame that after replacing stars in three Broadway musical revivals — How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Cabaret, and Nine — you finally get to open a show, but in a role that was iconically played by Dick Van Dyke in the 1963 film version. Any pressure to fill those shoes?
No, because I think I took a completely different approach to the character. I loved Ann-Margret and the music, but I thought the movie was cockamamie. Remember when they gave that turtle speed or something? So when they offered me the role, I was like, “Is there going to be a turtle in it?” When I read the script, I realized it was nothing like that. I found that Albert was, for a good percent of the time, like a little boy. He was a guy who hadn’t really grown up, which is something that I could relate to. I’ve gone through many incarnations of trying to become an adult in the last 10, 15 years, so I tapped into the little boy in me, which wasn’t very hard.