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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 5 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 36
2 SIDES OF GAY: Out actors Jason Stuart and Tank Burton share about the success of Love is Strange
Arts & Entertainment
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2 SIDES OF GAY: Out actors Jason Stuart and Tank Burton share about the success of Love is Strange

LOVE IS STRANGE
Opening September 12


Love is Strange is a movie from filmmaker Ira Sachs about Gay marriage and family showing up no matter what. Actors Jason Stuart and Tank Burton never crossed paths shooting on the set, but both actors have roles in the film.

Stuart plays the friend marrying Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina). Burton plays a Lesbian cop with a wife and baby. The film also stars Oscar winner Marisa Tomei as Kate.

Stuart says, '[Tank and I] met when the movie screened at Sundance, and become fast friends. Tank is a sister from another mother! I'm a gay, Jewish white man living in Los Angeles. She's a Christian, black lesbian in New York!'

Stuart and Burton met in New York recently to chat about Love is Strange.

Jason Stuart: So what was it like to hang at Sundance last January?

Tank Burton: Sundance was amazing! I hadn't been there in years, and it was so great to be there with a wonderful film and to hang with you. You took me to all the hot spots.

JS: How does it feel to get all this recognition as an actor when you are more known as a filmmaker?

JS:I never saw this coming. If someone had told me that my break would come from acting, I would have said 'No way'... probably with some more explicit words, but that would have been the gist. (She laughs.)

JS: Have you always been openly gay?

JS:I've been out since college. I've been incredibly blessed to have a family who has been loving, supportive and truly inspiring.

JS: Do you think gay actors should play gay roles?

JS:Not necessarily. An actor can play any part and should be able to.

JS: What was it like to work with icons John Lithgow and Alfred Molina?

JS:I didn't have any scenes with John. It was just the way the script was structured. We have met several times since filming and he is such a kind and giving person. I would love to work with him in the future.

Fred and I had a connection from the very beginning. He was heading to set and he said in his very British accent 'Tank, are you heading to set? Do you want to go with me?' And that was it. We were connected at the hip. I just saw him for LA FilmFest and we hugged for a long time. He has a big heart. Fred will be in my feature shooting next year called Skateboard, Skateboard, a coming of age story set in Brooklyn.

JS: How did you get the role in Love is Strange? I heard you knew Ira Sachs, the filmmaker?

JS:Ira was at a Made in New York event at Baruch College on the east side. It's amazing; I didn't even want to be there. My cousin and producer were networking, and I saw him come up the stairs. I introduced myself, and we talked about his Queer Art film program. He was very cordial and that was it. He got about 10 feet away, turned back and asked 'Do you act?' 'Yes, I started my career as an actor.' 'Would you audition for my film? You'd play a lesbian cop.' I said, 'Sure' Two days later, I was auditioning at Avy Kaufman. Two weeks later, I'm sitting next to Alfred Molina on a couch in Queens, shooting. The most significant moments of our lives we often least expect.

Tank Burton: What is it like as a working gay actor? Are there parts you can relate to? Or are you always playing 'straight'?

Jason Stuart: I love that you see me as a working actor, so thank you for that. I play the role I am asked to do. Gay or straight does not matter to me; it's the quality of the work. It's the filmmaker first, the part and then the money. And FYI there are few gay roles after 35. We seem to disappear and come back at 60!

JS:What is more of a challenge being gay or your age?

JS: OMG ... age because getting older is so new for me! How did it happen! I can't believe I'm not 26!

JS:How have you navigated being out and gay in LA where most gays conceal who they are, because they fear they won't get parts?

JS: Being out was more important to me than being in showbiz. Hiding was tearing me apart inside and made me feel like I was less than. There are still folks who think if you're gay, that's all you can do. My goal is to prove to them that I am not a one trick pony.

JS:Is it easier to get work in LA OR NY?

JS: That is a question I will soon answer as I am being bi-coastal and will be spending some time in New York. So when I find out I will tell you. And I also met a guy in NY... sooooo J.

JS:Which role of yours is closest to who you really are?

JS: Man, I would guess the web series I just made, Mentor, which will be released in the fall. I play myself a la Louis CK. I wanted to create a show that was my sensibility. Comedy and drama.

JS:You have played a big part in helping new actors who have come out recently. You paved the way when you came out 30 years ago.

JS: Well, I so hope I am helping. That is my goal. I created the SAG AFTRA LGBT Committee with Duncan Crabtree Ireland, with the hope to make it easier for the next generations of actors.

JS:What would you today tell the younger Jason?

JS: Don't treat yourself so badly. Treat yourself the same way you would a good friend. And making yourself crazy does not help - it just makes yourself crazy. All that was such a waste of time.

JS:What film title would describe you and your life?

JS: 'Sexy, Funny, Good Guy.'

JS:What role do you wish you had played? The one that got away?

JS: As Good As It Gets .... The part played by Greg Kinnear. It was written for an average looking, sad, funny gay man. And a blonde, sexy, prince got the role. Oy!

JS:Publicly, how do you show your affection to your partner? Do you think it's easier or harder as gay?

JS: I think it's harder as I was raised to hide. But I love to have my man on my arm. It makes me feel so good. FYI I'm coming to NYC Labor Day and hope to see you again. Come see me at Stand Up NY on August 29th.

JS:Just call me; we will have lunch. I want to meet the new guy!

JS: OK J. He's so hot.

Courtesy of Modern Artists/i>

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2 SIDES OF GAY: Out actors Jason Stuart and Tank Burton share about the success of Love is Strange
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