Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Schaech's Appeal

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Schaech's Appeal

Article excerpt

Forsaken star Johnathon Schaech talks about playing to gay men, playing gay roles, and playing companion to Ellen DeGeneres

Though Johnathon Schaech's character in the new thriller The Forsaken isn't gay, he does enjoy snacking on a few good men. "I play a vampire," explains the Baltimore-born star of That Thing You Do! and How to Make an American Quilt, who was last seen romancing Jennifer Love Hewitt on the Fox TV series Time of Your Life, "but not the typical bloodsucking vampire. He's been cursed for centuries with immortality, and he collects people to serve him." Serve him how, exactly? "Well, there's some good nude scenes," says Schaech with a laugh, "but no male frontals. That only happens on Oz."

Come to think of it, Schaech would be right at home on HBO's prison-set series with a big gay following, for here's an actor who has never shied away from sexually adventurous subject matter and who has a gay following all his own. Since his breakout role in Gregg Araki's The Doom Generation, in which he played an ambisexual drifter, the actor has practically dripped a kind of equal-opportunity boffability that has kept gay fans coming back for more. His homoerotic love triangle with Matt Keeslar and Kathleen Robertson in Araki's recent Splendor further fanned the flames.

"The most amazing, intelligent, artistic, caring men I've ever met have all been gay men," says the actor, who off-screen is engaged to actress Christina Applegate. "My uncle's gay, and growing up, I was always around him and all his friends. That's the part of the audience I want to attract more than anyone. If I can get the respect of gay people, then I'm the luckiest man alive, because they have the most open hearts."

It makes sense, then, that of all his characters, the one that most got under his skin was a Colombian-born gay Manhattanite dying of AIDS in David Rabe's '80s-set play A Question of Mercy, produced in Los Angeles last fall. Schaech first learned of the piece when one of his idols, Sean Penn, called to ask him to take part in a reading of Rabe's screenplay version, which Penn was considering directing.

"I was so scared, because I get to this reading and Warren Beatty, Lisa Kudrow, and Stephen Spinella are reading with me," marvels Schaech. …

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