Wednesday, July 17, 2013

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: John Barrowman on His Recent Marriage, TV Roles, Upcoming Projects, Comic Con, Sci-Fi Fans & More!

John Barrowman has been entertaining fans with his singing, dancing, acting and hosting skills for years. Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1967, he moved to Illinois and later studied Musical Theatre at International University in San Diego. In 1989, while in the UK to study Shakespeare, he landed his first professional role, starring as Billy Crocker (opposite Elaine Paige) in the Cole Porter musical "Anything Goes." Since then he has entertained theater audiences in the West End, on Broadway and even in his native Scotland.

On the big screen, Barrowman has appeared as the Lead Tenor in The Producers, as Jack in the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely, and as he star of cult classic Megalodon: Shark Attack 3. He had a supporting role in the Oscar-winning film Zero Dark Thirty, and appeared in Vertigo Films' All Stars this year.

His most famous television role is of course Captain Jack Harkness, whose first appearance in the revamped DOCTOR WHO created such an impact that he was given his own spin off series, TORCHWOOD.


We Love Soaps (just barely) caught up with Barrowman as he and his husband, Scott Gill, were en route from In-and-Out Burger to San Diego Comic Con.

"The years I was doing TORCHWOOD and DOCTOR WHO it was a Captain Jack thing," he explained about his annual journey to Comic Con. "This time I'll be going as myself but also under the ARROW auspice. This year, with the books my sister (Carole E. Barrowman) and I have written, 'Hollow Earth' and 'Bone Quill,' we're doing stuff for that. I go as myself and whichever companies want to utilize me I open myself up for it and say, 'I'm ready.'"

Aren't sci-fi fans some of the most passionate, loyal, lifelong fans?

"Yes, and I can say myself because I'm one of those fans," Barrowman says. "I'm a fan of other sci-fi shows just as people are fans of mine from sci-fi stuff. They are the most passionate, and that's great for us as the actors. It means we've made an impact with the characters we've played, and the stories that the show has been bringing forward. It's a great thing."

Two of Barrowman's early TV roles were on primetime soaps in the United States, playing Peter Fairchild on CENTRAL PARK WEST and Peter Williams on TITANS.

"Those were the types of shows I grew up with like DYNASTY and DALLAS and KNOTS LANDING," he says. "To be asked to be a part of CENTRAL PARK WEST which was deemed to be the "New York MELROSE PLACE" and then to do TITANS, an Aaron Spelling show, was just amazing.

While Barrowman had many roles before joining the cast of DOCTOR WHO, the role of Captain Jack was special.

"I've always said Captain Jack put me on a different level," Barrowman explains. "He did change my life. I had a really good career in musical theater and doing other TV work in the United Kingdom prior to that, but Captain Jack made me a household name in Britain and also put me on TV around the world. It was a huge, big step for me."

In 2010 Barrowman guest-starred as Patrick Logan in Marc Cherry's DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.

"Funny enough, it was the first time I got to play a bad guy," he says. "And Marc Cherry, who was a fan of Captain Jack, wrote the part for me. It was after a breakfast where he basically said, 'I really want to you to be in DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.' He got hold of my management and within three or four hours we had the dates worked out. I really enjoyed it."

"Some people were like, 'Oh, but it's DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES,' and I say, 'You know what, it was the most popular TV shows on the planet. And in the history of television, one of the Top 5."

"It was lovely, and I get checks from it all the time," Barrowman says with a laugh.

On June 26, the Supreme Court made key rulings in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases which, among other things, legalized same-sex marriages in California once again.

"We always thought the United Kingdom would have been first," Barrowman explains. "For Prop 8 and DOMA to be tossed aside - as soon as it happened, we celebrated by going out for cocktails that night, as soon as DOMA was pushed down."

On July 2nd, Barrowman posted a video online of him and longtime his partner, architect Scott Gill, on their way to get married in Californa.

"We always said when the opportunity arose we would go ahead and do it," he says. "We just woke up that morning, we had an argument, and then we just decided to do it."

Barrowman and Gill have been together for 20 years. When I asked if he had any secrets for relationship longevity, Gill chimed in, mischievously, with the answer: "Tolerance."

"I always say, if life is like a road, or a relationship is, then we have these speed bumps. Every so often they kind of jolt you," Barrowman added.

 "If there are any speed bumps in your relationship and life, is it really worth turning around and ruining everything for one little bump (or mistake)? Saying, 'We're going to stop this,' or 'End this, it's no longer valid, blah, blah, blah?

"My mom and dad always said that relationships are work; you work at them. If something goes wrong or someone makes a mistake, you have to be able to forgive and forget and move on from it. If you decide to end something because of something stupid - like someone making out with someone at a party because they were drunk - is it really ruining your whole relationship over it, just because of that one little mistake?"

It was then I offered my totally shallow observation that ARROW, with Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn, has the sexiest cast on TV.

"One of the criteria when I got the job: I said to Andrew Criesberg, 'I'll go ahead and do it, but you have to write me a scene where Stephen Amell is naked.'

"After I read the script for the season finale, where he's hanging from a chain, half naked, Andrew came up to me and said, 'I've given you sort of, part of, what you wanted.'"

Barrow has several new projects in the works including an entertainment quiz show in the UK.

"It's a primetime show called PRESSURE PAD," he explains. "I shoot thirty episodes of that in September, for three weeks."

Barrowman is a natural host, having done concert tours and having written his own shows.

"I've had four successful 29-city concert tours around the UK where I do stand-up and everything in it," he says. "Prior to me being on American television, going back to my theater days in the UK, I hosted children's television shows. That's where my TV career really started.

"I've just, actually, finished hosting a TV show for ABC which will air in January. It's called SING YOUR FACE OFF. It's a show were celebrities come and we give them the opportunity to become the pop idol they want to portray. Someone might want to be Elvis, so we make them Elvis; we'll use prosthetics, so they sound like them and look like them, and take on the whole persona."

Barrowman has accomplished much, but there are still roles he would love to play.

"I'd like to do a Disney movie-musical, kind of like the Beach Blanket Bingo series coming up."

We would love see Barrowman doing musical theater near our New York offices, but his schedule is too busy, at the moment.

"Last year I was asked for about three different shows. It's not a question of me not wanting to do, but a question of the time commitment. Because I'm contracted to ABC and The CW and Warner Brothers I'm very limited in the amount of time I can commit to a theater show. But it's something I really, really want to do again."

If given the opportunity to go back in time and give his younger self a piece of advice, knowing what he knows now, Barrowman would not change a thing.

"First of all I'd tell myself to buy Apple stock," he jokes. "I have to be totally honest with you, I would do nothing different. If anything I would come out of the closet earlier. But it might not have worked the same way that it did if I had. So I'm quite happy with the way things are.

"If someone had said to me that coming out has been 'detrimental' to my career, well then... I love this 'detriment' I'm 'suffering' at the moment."

Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps, worked as a producer on the first two seasons of Emmy-nominated THE BAY, and is executive producer on the indie short May Mercy Lie, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals. He appeared in FRANCOPRHENIA in 2012 and the documentary SOAP LIFE, out on DVD in 2013.

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