Interview : Charlie David

Publiée sur le site : At one point in your acting career did you come out?

Charlie David: I came out to friends and family when I was sixteen years old. I grew up in a small city in Saskatchewan that like a lot of Canada seemed to be obsessed with hockey. I didn't know anyone gay and when I realized that I was, I felt very isolated. I had just come to the dinner table after watching an episode of Melrose Place and my mom asked why I watched that garbage. I broke down in tears right there and said, "It's not garbage, my life is Melrose Place!" If only a camera were rolling, I would've snagged an Emmy. But seriously at the time I had a friend in rehab, another struggling with the thought of having an abortion, I was coming out. It was a perfect episode for Mr. Spelling, and we were just sixteen. A year ago I decided to come out publicly or more to the point, be honest with myself and stop trying to trick people. It's absolutely exhausting, archaic and ridiculous.

AE: Were you ever pressured to stay closeted by people in the industry?

CD: When I was deliberating about coming out I had many friends, peers and professionals within the industry warn me to stay closeted. I think their fear came from a genuine concern for me and from looking at the history of performers coming out and the struggle that exists. In the end the decision was made because I truly believe in the goodness we offer as gay and lesbians through our differences. We have to be the change we want to see in the world and if we don't take those steps we have no right to sit back and bitch. I want to offer an example to other young gay men and women that dooms day doesn't come when you come out but a whole world of opportunity can present itself. It's not easy and everyday presents new challenges but just by being out, holding a boyfriend's hand, speaking freely about the love each of us is seeking, that's how we'll change people and become better human beings. Beyond if I lose a job or gain a gig because I'm gay, I'm happier as a person and so I'm leading a life with no regrets.

AE: Have you or any of your gay friends experienced homophobia in Hollywood?

CD: There are varying degrees of homophobia. In my mind having reservation about asking someone's sexuality is a form of homophobia. The implication is that there is something shameful surrounding the issue. My God! It's just sex! Sex is a good thing. Hollywood is a strange place for political or human rights battles because so much of our media is based on stereotypes. Gender equality, racism, ageism, and homophobia: these are all still very relevant issues in Hollywood and throughout the world. One of the comments that makes me livid is when I hear an actor, casting, or an agent equate playing gay to being a rapist or an axe murderer. In encouraging a straight performer to play gay they'll say,"Well you'll play psychotic and you're not really psychotic, this is no different." I understand the logic but try equating playing gay to a positive instead of a negative. "You're not really a Nobel prize winner, you're just acting." Geez, sometimes you'd think a straight man or woman had saved the world from impending Armageddon by kissing someone of the same sex on screen. The accolades! So brave! Gimme a break. Where's our awards for assimilating into straight culture since the dawn of time so we don't get burned at the stake?!?

AE: What writing projects are you working on now?

CD: I penned a screenplay, Mulligans, which my production company Rubber Ducky Films Ltd. is filming this summer. It's the story of two best friends who journey home for the summer holidays after college and the family is threatened to be torn apart when one of them makes a huge mistake. What's the mistake? You'll have to watch to find out but you won't be disappointed. I say it's The Graduate meets Desperate Housewives. The script has been received well in the Canadian writing community and won some awards. Last week we attached Thea Gill (Queer as Folk) and Derek James (American Dreams, The L-Word) so we're thrilled with how the team is shaping up. One of my favorite aspects of the screenplay is the bond between the two best friends, one gay and one straight. I've always developed really strong relationships with straight men that I can best describe as truly platonic, transcending the carnal and existing in a very safe place. It's hell on my love life but the friendship is amazing! My best friend, Derek James and a really talented actor, Jonny Fleming and I share that bond. They're both straight but we're best buddies and our sexuality only enhances our jokes, our viewpoints and admiration for each other. I think it's a unique dynamic and I'm really excited to explore it on film.

AE: Do you prefer to write about gay characters?

CD: As a writer I always bring myself and my experiences into the work. Sometimes it's only a small piece and then my imagination creates a world around it. So often there are gay characters or definitely subtext in my work. I used to say my sexuality doesn't define me and I still believe that but it definitely bleeds into all aspects of my life. There is a fluidity to everything and if I compartmentalize my sexuality I think something will be compromised. There are experiences, memories, and feelings we have as gay men that allow us to see from a woman's perspective or from a child's. We also have the benefit of knowing the surge of testosterone. Why would I turn any of that off? Use it! I do feel there is an under representation of gay and lesbian characters in film and television so if I'm able to bring more of our stories to life, I'm honored to do it.

AE: Brokeback Mountain has really opened the door for gay films to be more high-profile and more complex. What kind of gay-themed films would you like to see developed?

CD: My friend Chad Allen stars in a series of detective movies (Third Man Out) based on the Donald Strachey novels. He plays a gay private eye that's gutsy, interesting and has depth. I love that. Brokeback Mountain squashed stereotypes and told a real story, one that resonated with a lot of people. I don't think it's okay for our community to just make gay material and pat ourselves on the back anymore. We need to challenge ourselves to create really great films and television programming that continues to raise the bar, that interests not only ourselves but straight people as well. If the material is brilliant, as in the case of Brokeback Mountain, those are the films that have the power to create huge social change.

AE: Your show Dante's Cove is still somewhat of a rarity (as a gay-themed television show). How has the experience on Dante's Cove been for you? Is it more fun to be able to play a gay character?

CD: I've had a great time with the talented cast and crew of Dante's Cove. We're just wrapping our second season in Hawaii and it's been amazing. I feel really blessed to have a profession that I love and am passionate about everyday. I'm living many people's dream and I don't take it for granted. Dante's Cove is like a gay/lesbian Charmed. It's a guilty pleasure, soapy, dishy and delectable escapism. It's been an amazing experience to come out as an actor and be cast in a gay original series on America 's premier gay/lesbian television network. I think what here! TV is accomplishing is amazing and really propelling our community forward in terms of programming options. I also host a travel show, Bump! that airs in Canada, US, France, Belgium, and Israel on gay networks. The synergy of being out and the advent of these gay networks is very exciting. People always ask me if I'm concerned I'll get type-cast gay. Honey, type casting isn't such a horrible thing for an actor, it means people know who you are and you're working. Of course I want to play diverse and challenging roles but the sexuality of the character isn't important to me. I'd be happy to play 'gay' forever if the stories we're sharing have a broad spectrum and accurately reflect who we are.

AE: Dante's Cove has some pretty steamy love scenes. What are the challenges of shooting scenes like that?

CD: Challenges in shooting love scenes...Honestly it's not anywhere near as sexy as some may imagine. It's all about nose placement, lighting, choreography. I only ever work with Gregory Michael or Jonny Fleming in the show and both are terrific. It's very comfortable. We play poker and drink beer afterwards.

AE: Are any of the other actors on Dante's Cove openly gay?

CD: You'll have to ask them! Gabriel Romero, who is in season two, is open about his bisexuality and has a nice following in the Latino market. He's an extremely enlightened soul and a joy to work with.

AE: Can you give us any hints about what might be coming up for your character on Dante's Cove? Any new directions the show might be taking?

CD: For fans of Dante's Cove who watched last season my character, Toby, had a misfortunate occurrence at the end of Season one. Am I still 'taking a swim' at the bottom of the ocean? Season two has some fantastic additions to cast like Thea Gill, Jonny Fleming, Erin Cummings and Michelle Wolfe. Some really fine actors and amazing friends. The girls are hot and the boys are gonna be drooling over Jonny.