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!