Some 25 years after his breakthrough role as a gay teen in Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy, Matthew Broderick still has queer appeal. Maybe it’s because he and Nathan Lane were Broadway’s oddest couple in the musical juggernaut The Producers. Or it could be his 10-year marriage to the iconic Sarah Jessica Parker. Either way, with his computer-animated Bee Movie in theaters November 2 and a slew of buzzworthy films slated for release, the 45-year-old Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star shows off his gay bona fides by dishing on past flops and the gay icons in his life.
The Advocate: Before Torch Song Trilogy, did anyone warn you of the potential perils of accepting a gay role so early in your career?
Matthew Broderick: I had some agents telling me to be careful. I just thought it was a hilarious part and never worried about it. And to be totally honest, I hadn’t gotten any other jobs, so it was a really great job to get. When someone would mention to me, “But it’s a gay character, blah blah blah,” I was like, “Fuck you.” That play was a huge deal when it opened. It was one of the most exciting times of my career.
Ironically, you haven’t played another gay character since.
It seems to have had a reverse effect. I don’t know why. I think because Ferris Bueller came out and I got turned into that.
Have you heard the gay rumor about yourself?
I used to hear it more, but I don’t really hear it that much now — I guess because nobody who’s married and has children is gay. [Laughs] Now that I’m old, I’ve had so much other stuff happen to bother me that that wouldn’t bother me anyway.
Did it ever bother you?
A little bit just when I was trying to score. [Laughs] I’ve always had a lot of gay friends, I grew up in a theater household, so I’ve never been uncomfortable with that.
Which do you think fueled the rumors more: Torch Song, your friendship with Nathan Lane, or your little light green Vespa?
[Laughs] Maybe I am gay! It all sounds suspicious to me. I sold my green Vespa, interestingly enough, to a gay friend, [Hairspray lyricist] Scott Whitman. I got a gray one. You think that’s more butch?
A little. Now settle a bet. Who’s gayer: Nathan or Harvey Fierstein?
Whatever I answer, one of them will be extremely angry at me — but I don’t know which way would be worse for whom. They’re both very strong-willed men. And very gay. [Laughs] I shouldn’t say that, even. Strike that. They’re two of my biggest influences, and I love them both!
The Producers was criticized for, if not being homophobic, encouraging gay stereotypes. How do you respond?
With the Carmen Ghia and Roger De Bris characters? I always felt it was so outrageous and burlesque that it was OK. It never offended me. And it was almost all gay people [behind the show]!
So what’s it like to be married to such a huge gay icon?
It’s amazing. She always had a little bit of that quality even before Sex and the City. It’s an interesting phenomenon with women who cross over like that. There’s a bit of a gay community going on at our house, actually. There are a lot of people who help her get her stunning looks together, and I will say there’s a certain percentage of them who are not straight.