Harry Hamlin

One can talk about the “risk” the stars of Brokeback Mountain took in accepting their roles, but for rising star Harry Hamlin in 1982, playing an out gay man in Making Love—and having a full-on love scene with Michael Ontkean—was truly risky. Now that this gay classic is on DVD, we had a chat with the still-smoldering Hamlin.

BY Advocate.com Editors

February 28 2006 1:00 AM ET

I attended the 20th anniversary screening at UCLA a
couple of years ago, where you spoke afterward,
and it was a shock to me how bold Making
Love
was. It got a bad rap over the years for being
very safe, but I think Making Love really
pushes it, as far as a big studio movie goes.

It was a contemporary story at the time.
Brokeback Mountain is a period piece. And
as a contemporary story, it does push the
envelope—the kiss and even the lovemaking
scenes that were in there would probably be equally as
controversial today as they were that many years ago.

When you were first approached with this material, did
you hesitate?

I was reading a lot of scripts then. My career
was on a fast-track trajectory, and most of the
scripts I was reading were pretty stupid. They
didn’t really resonate in any way socially. And I
read this script and saw that it was a slice of
contemporary life that was being ignored by the
popular media, I guess because it was too hot to handle. But
I thought of it as being something relevant to the
times, and that was the kind of filmmaking that I
wanted to do. So I jumped at it. Yes, there were
people who said, “You can’t play a gay
character and get away with it,” but I had come
from repertory theater, where I was playing all kinds
of characters every week. So as an actor it just seemed to
me that you’re an actor, you take on a part,
and you play it. And if you do a good job, somebody
shakes your hand, and if you don’t, nobody talks to
you. Certainly I never thought the actual subject
matter would have been problematic.

What’s interesting to me about Brokeback is
how much 14-year-old giggling there is in the
mainstream media, even from Oprah, in talking
about gay love and gay sex. Did you face a similar
“tee-hee” factor when Making
Love
came out?
I’m not sure about the “tee-hee”
factor; people were more angry about it. There was a
backlash in the media of “What do you guys think
you’re doing?” and “This is
stupid.” A lot of the reviewers that I remember
really got pissed off that we made this movie.

I understand you were the only cast member who knew that
you were the killer during season 1 of Veronica
Mars.
Was that tricky to keep secret from your costars?

I don’t know that I was the only one who
knew, but I did know. From the moment the producer
called me and asked me to play the role, he told me.
And I thought, That's odd. Why would they tell me if they
want to keep this a big secret? And then I figured it
was all just misinformation, that they were giving me
the story, and I might leak it and wind up not being
the killer. So I just kept my mouth shut. I actually thought
Lisa [Rinna, Hamlin’s wife] was the killer; her
character disappeared, and then I figured they were
just going to spin it out that way.

You were once named People’s Sexiest Man Alive.
Does that come with a plaque or a watch or anything?
[Laughs] Oh, man. I don’t know what it
comes with today; things have changed so much. When I
used to go to the Oscars to present, or the Golden
Globes or the Emmys or whatever, you got a little note that
said, “Thanks for coming.” I was just reading
today that they get these bags with $50,000 worth of
swag in them. I’ve got to get back in the game!
No, it came with nothing…but mortification.

Tags: Commentary

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