It's an L of a Time for Alan Cumming
Alan Cumming, The L Word
Before Alan Cumming
bids adieu to Showtime's The L Word
(Sundays at 10pm/ET) — he has three more episodes to air — you can bet that he will have made his mark on the envelope-pushing sapphic series. In a Q&A with TVGuide.com, the actor teased what's ahead, gave us a whiff of his bawdy little skin-care line, and shared his glee over his forthcoming Broadway venture.
TVGuide.com: The first time I remember seeing you was in 1995's Circle of Friends. Was I late to the Alan Cumming party?
Alan Cumming: [Laughs] Well, I had existed before then, but... that was the first film I had done that did well in America.
TVGuide.com: Was it a turning point of any kind?
Cumming: Yes, it was, in that after I came to America to do press for it, I started to get asked to work here.
TVGuide.com: These days, you can be seen on The L Word, playing Billie Blaikie, manager of the Planet. How is Pam Grier as a boss?
Cumming: She's great, I love her. It was funny, because I do this thing on the Sundance Channel with my dog, where we introduce films and afterward my dog gives a "paws up" or "paws down," and one of the films we screened last summer was Foxy Brown. Literally a week after that, I got the call to do The L Word. I loved Pam, she's so fun and easy.
TVGuide.com: The L Word, as in some of your other roles, occasionally finds you in a corset, in drag and such. Is there any actress you channel when done up so?
Cumming: No. The thing about all that stuff is I just sort of forget I have it on. It's quite funny because of course there's the shock value, but when you're inside it you forget — and that makes you a bit more confident, I suppose. It's that good combo where you're still obviously a man but are playing with the notion of what exactly that means. But no, there's nobody I channel, because each role is very different.
TVGuide.com: Is Billie due for any serious hookups? I understand there is a moment to come with Daniela Sea's Moira-Max that may leave us... with mouths agape?
Cumming: Oh, you've seen that? Daniela and I have a very, very steamy [encounter]. I can imagine it's probably the first time that type of sexual act has been seen on television.
TVGuide.com: But what about Mia Kirshner's poor Jenny?
Cumming: Well... this will give her more crying scenes. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: I take it you didn't get asked back for X-Men 3, as Nightcrawler?
Cumming: That's right.
TVGuide.com: Were you bummed? Was it a fun role to play?
Cumming: Uh, no, it wasn't. I really enjoyed the film but... it kind of screwed up my year.
TVGuide.com: You have a line of cologne out now, called Cumming. Is this a scent for which the world was screaming?
Cumming: I don't know if they were screaming, but maybe they all had a raised eyebrow in anticipation.
TVGuide.com: It's actually now a whole skin-care line?
Cumming: Yeah. At first it was the fragrance, and now it's a body wash, scrub, soaps... [the clever names of which cannot be repeated here].
TVGuide.com: You have a lot of new projects coming up. Let's start with Threepenny Opera [opening on Broadway April 20], which you're doing with Cyndi Lauper, Jim Dale and Ana Gasteyer. That's quite a group! Are you looking forward to it?
Cumming: Very much so, yeah. We actually did a shoot for a magazine the other week, where I got to see everyone. It's scary to start something new, but the fact that I had already done a [Threepenny Opera] workshop and gotten through it was quite heartening. I've been singing away.... Oh, I must go see my singing teacher. Thanks for reminding me!
TVGuide.com: How is Cyndi Lauper going to be on stage?
Cumming: I think she'll be great. I'm really looking forward to working with her. She's really ballsy and has a beautiful voice. It's a great role for her.
TVGuide.com: Looking at the long, long list of stage awards you have won, which has meant the most to you?
Cumming: Well, getting a Tony [in 1998, for Cabaret] was pretty great, because I had just come to New York for the first time. It was a sort of fairy tale thing that I fell upon. And then I won a Laurence Olivier Award [for Most Promising Newcomer of 1988], which is the British equivalent of that. That was so crazy because I was so young and had just moved to London. And Angela Lansbury gave it to me!
TVGuide.com: You recently directed a film called Suffering Man's Charity.
Cumming: Yes, and now I'm editing it while I'm doing the play. It's about this cello teacher, whom I play, who is crazy and has taken in this young waiter who wants to be a novelist. It's this obsessive tale that goes horribly wrong and becomes a sort of psychological horror-slasher kind of film.
TVGuide.com: Ah, so the emphasis is on suffering.
Cumming: There's a lot of suffering, but it's very funny, as well. Great people are in it — Anne Heche, David Boreanaz is the boy, Henry Thomas, Carrie Fisher — so there's lots of laughter, and then it goes very, very, very dark. Just yesterday the editor and I finally got out of that [editing] room after doing the torture sequence, and we were giddy, just laughing away, so happy. I'm really excited about it. [Acting-directing] is pretty daunting, and the actual shoot was so grueling — David's a big boy, so when you're having big fight scenes with him, he wins, even if I win!