Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Ian Somerhalder on gay acting roles.
Ian Somerhalder is one of those rare creatures - the successful male model-slash-actor. With Hollywood a virtual graveyard if the breed (RIP Antonio Sabato Jr), Somerhalder stands alone, looking gorgeous if slightly uncomfortable. Not surprisingly, he's determined to put those heady teenage years pouting for the likes of Calvin Klein, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana behind him. "Modelling was just a job," he says, perhaps a little too insistently. "[Acting] is a profession and a love."
The 23-year-old Californian's dramatic skills will probably never upstage that face, but in his pursuit of credibility he's already displayed surprising range. He was loathsome as one of the two Wyoming youths who murdered Matthew Shepard in the 2001 tv movie, Anatomy of a Hate Crime, and now he's batting for the other ream as college student Paul Denton, variously reviewed as "bisexual", "gay" or [our favorite] "unhappily homosexual", in the hedonistic anti-teen movie Rules of Attraction.
Adapted by Roger Avary (co-scriptwriter of Pulp Fiction) from the 1987 Bret Easton Ellis novel, it's the story of a lust triangle-Paul wants Sean, Sean wants Lauren, Lauren wanted Paul but never quite got around to him-set in an affluent New England liberal arts college. (Read: indiscriminate sex, good drugs.) While the film, laden with cinematic trickery and set to a psuedo-80's soundtrack, has been widely criticized for looking good but going nowhere, the same can't be said for its cast. Avary has shrewdly populated his nihilistic world with wholesome young actors-"fresh-faced" as Somerhalder puts it-most notably James Van Der Beek, best known as the articulately sappy title character in the tv show Dawson's Creek, who plays the predatorial lead character Sean Bateman (younger brother of Ellis' American Psycho Patrick Bateman).
Avary's choices cleverly heighten the impact of the many indignities and debaucheries (orgies, date rape, suicide, addiction) to which he subjects his characters. That the actors so obviously relish the opportunity to slut and snort their way through the film makes it all the more effective.
Of course then there's the moment that has caused screams of disbelief from countless female Dawson fans: Paul and Sean's kiss. Ask Somerhalder about their preparation for the fantasy sequence and he won't bite. "Just laughed and had a beer," he shrugs. "We just sat there, you know, it was what it was." As for tackling the sexually fluid role, Somerhalder had no anxiety. He thinks it's just a reflection of what's become "more socially acceptable". Besides, you'd expect a male model would be comfortable with it. "Yeah, you're right," he laughs. "If you're not, there's something wrong. I've been in the fashion industry for so long, I've lived in New York and LA and Europe, so many of my friends are gay."
One can imagine he's has similar experiences to his character's-gay boy lust after straight men in vain-but from the other side. If he has, he's not admitting to it, although he has at least given the situation some thought. "I talked to a lot of my friends and I came to the conclusion, it's got to suck. If you're gay and you're pining for straight men all the time, it's simply not going to happen. And I guess if you want something really badly and you literally cannot have it, that's got to be so not fun."
SOMERHALDER HITS BACK AT 'ANTI-GAY' SLUR
LOST star IAN SOMERHALDER is furious he was slammed as homophobic when he decided his famous gay kiss in THE RULES OF ATTRACTION would be his last.
The 26-year-old hunk nearly lost a lot of friends as a result of the public reaction to his remark, although he insists his words had been spectacularly misconstrued.
He says, "It's not me who can't handle it, it's the audience.
"SEANN WILLIAM SCOTT didn't get all of the backlash that I received when he did just the same in AMERICAN PIE (2).
"It was completely unjustified - fans and outraged men saying that I was making anti-gay remarks.
"I wasn't and those very close to me who are gay were visibly upset.
Somerhalder is the latest in a long line of young actors who are telling the world: "I'm not gay, but some of my best roles are." As he admits, "I've been asked a lot, are you overcompensating trying to state how straight you are? I'm not. It's challenging as a straight guy to make conscious efforts to be gay."
What the actor rejects is the suggestion that he's just wearing this season's label. "I don't even know about fashionable," he says, "I didn't really even pay attention to that. I just know that it was a challenge. Look, it's the one thing that you know when you wake up in the morning, and when you go to sleep at night-you know your sexuality. If you're really comfortable with it, then it's fine, and James and I had endless conversations about it. We knew that we had a chance to do something really cool and really funny, and frankly," he laughs, "fuck with a lot of people."
-Robin Lynch and Reese Esposito
Posted by CJ at 1:51 pm