Russell Tovey remembers being told early in his acting career that he shouldn’t come out as gay.
“I remember thinking, ‘I’m hearing you. Thank you very much. I appreciate your advice, but I’m going to do this because this feels authentic to me,’” the actor tells me on this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast. “This feels important to me. It feels important to my life outside of my pretend life of playing all these characters. I have to have the stability to know who I am outside of this.”
Not that he doesn’t wonder what his career may have looked like if he remained in the closet. “I don’t know, but I don’t regret it on any level because my career has taken me somewhere really exciting,” Tovey says. “And I’ve played so many queer guys, queer characters that have brought me so much joy and I feel like have brought a lot of people joy and changed, set the dial somewhere else for people.”
At the same time he was being told not to live his truth, Tovey was also being pressured to do something about his ears. “Someone said to me, ‘If you want to make it in Hollywood, you’ve got to pin your ears back,’” he says. “And I remember being like, ‘They’re my trademark!’ I’ve never had an issue with my ears.”
Tovey’s profile took a big leap when he played Kevin, Jonathan Groff’s boss and love interest on HBO’s “Looking.” His prolific career also includes the FBI series “Quantico” opposite Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Russell T. Davies’ “Years and Years,” “Flesh and Blood” with Imelda Staunton as well as runs on Broadway and the West End.
And now he’s landed as the lead player on Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story: New York City.” Tovey plays a closeted cop in New York investigating the murders of several gay men during the onset of the AIDS epidemic. The cast also includes Joe Mantello, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Carver and Patti LuPone.
This latest installment of the “AHS” anthology is a sexy horror thriller that features Tovey in all sorts of bedroom scenes that include leather and bondage gear. “I always get jobs where I make out with a lot of people,” Tovey says. “I’m always having sex and stuff on screen. My mom, bless her, has seen me have sex in multiple ways and she’s seen me die hundreds of times. I feel sorry for her that she’s seen sex and death through my eyes a lot.”
While filming “AHS” in New York City, he realized it was time to for him to get the monkeypox vaccine. “I’m in a relationship in the U.K. and I don’t make a habit of going out and kissing other people, but suddenly because of my job, I’m kissing lots of guys and you are a bit like, ‘Oh, shit, I need to go and get vaccinated,’” Tovey said. “The only place they had it was Fire Island and I’d never been. So my first ever experience of Fire Island was going to get the monkeypox vaccine. I had the vaccine, I swam in the sea, had some lunch, got back on the ferry. I was like, ‘This is a lovely way to get a vaccine.’ Everyone should do it this way.”
Of course, there was an intimacy coordinator on set, but Tovey says he was never uncomfortable filming the show’s most explicit scenes, including one in which he makes out and whips a character played by straight actor Zach Meiser. “There is an anxiety that kicks in that you go, ‘This is a straight guy, I’m a gay guy, openly, and we’re going to be kissing now.’ And we did it and then his tongue slipped in and then they cut and he went to me, ‘I just slipped my tongue in there…Is that all right?’ I said, ‘If it’s all right with you.’”
They continued shooting the sequence. “The next time we did it, I was like, ‘This guy is up for it! This guy’s committed. I absolutely love this, let’s go for it!’ So then we are like eating each other’s face, tongue in each other’s face. At one point I thought, ‘I’m going to spit in his mouth. No, don’t do that. That’s too much.’ I had to hold back. That’s when you get in trouble.”
Tovey was having lunch in a London restaurant when Murphy first called him to discuss “AHS.” “He said, ‘I’ve got a great role for you. It’s going to be based on ‘Cruising’…It’s kind of like the Al Pacino role. How would you feel about doing that? Are you free?’ And I was like, ‘My god, yeah, I can make myself free. I can do that. Then we talked for about 15 minutes about art. So we talked about ‘American Horror Story’ for about a minute and a half. We talked about art, artists we love, queer artists of the ‘80s and ‘90s. A lot of artists that were lost that are now being rediscovered because there’s a lot of themes that me and Ryan share in our taste for artists and especially artists that died of AIDS and were overlooked in their lifetime. Reasserting them into the cannon is something that’s really important to me.”
Tovey and gallerist Robert Diament host the art podcast “Talk Art.” They published their first book, “Talk Art: Everything You Wanted to Know About Contemporary Art but Were Afraid to Ask,” in June. “We were a Sunday Times bestseller, which was incredibly exciting for an art book,” Tovey says. A second book will be released next year. “When we started, Rob was saying, ‘What are we doing? We’re not allowed to be doing this,’” Tovey says. “So many people would be like, ‘Why are you doing this? And you should only be talking to artists. You shouldn’t be talking to celebrities. You shouldn’t be talking to people who aren’t in the art world.’ I was like, ‘No, because that makes it really exclusive. We’re not exclusive, we’re inclusive.’”
You can listen to the full interview with Tovey below. You can also find “Just for Variety” wherever you download your favorite podcasts.
‘American Horror Story: NYC’ Star Russell Tovey Talks Sex Scenes With Straight Actors and Why He Came Out Early in His Career
TV LINE: Well, here’s a familiar scene: After months of rumors, leaks and rampant speculation, a new season of American Horror Story has at last been confirmed.
Season 11 of Ryan Murphy’s FX horror franchise will be titled American Horror Story: NYC, TVLine can confirm. The new season will begin on Wednesday, Oct. 19 with the premiere of the first two episodes. (Episodes will stream next day on Hulu.)
The cast will include a mix of Horror Story newbies and returning favorites, including: Zachary Quinto (who previously appeared in Seasons 1 and 2 of AHS), Sandra Bernhard (who co-starred in Murphy’s Pose) and Charlie Carver (who has collaborated with Murphy on Netflix’s Ratched and The Boys in the Band). Rounding out the ensemble is Joe Mantello, Billie Lourd, Russell Tovey, Leslie Grossman, Charlie Carver, Isaac Powell, Denis O’Hare and Patti LuPone.
It’s All Coming Back to Me will be hitting theaters on February 10.
The Sony Screen Gems movie formerly titled Text for You centers on a woman who, after tragically losing her fiancé, starts to send romantic texts to his old cell. It turns out the number has been reassigned to a man across town suffering from a similar heartbreak. The two meet and feel an undeniable connection but can’t seem to leave the past behind. Until Celine Dion and her music gives them the courage to take a chance on love again.
Written and directed by Jim Strouse, the pic stars Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sam Heughan and Dion, and it’s produced by Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee and Esther Hornstein. EPs are Doug Belgrad, Sophie Cassidy, Louise Killin, Jonathan Furhman and Dion.Source: Deadline
The critically acclaimed international success, which was developed, written, and starred award-winning comedian Matafeo, is due to return to television in February 2022 on a new and better BBC Three channel.
Last year, the British comedy Starstruck came to both BBC and HBO Max and quickly became one of the most critically acclaimed new comedies of 2021. Now, fans have a first look at the next season of the show which is due to premiere next month on BBC Three, with an HBO Max date yet to be confirmed.
The new first-look image from Season 2 sees Jessie, played by series creator and co-writer Rose Matafeo, and Tom, played by Nikesh Patel (Hulu’s Four Weddings And A Funeral), as they brush their teeth together with some visible tension between them. Starstruck follows a millennial (Matafeo) living in East London working various dead-end jobs who ends up romantically involved with a famous movie star (Patel) after the two have a one-night stand on New Year’s Eve. The new season is set to pick up where the first left off, with Jessie having to deal with the real-world consequences of choosing to stay in London to pursue a relationship with Tom.
Along with Matafeo and Patel, the new season will include Minnie Driver (Modern Love) reprising her role as Tom’s agent Cath. In terms of new additions to the upcoming season, Russell Tovey (Years And Years) will join the cast in a currently unknown role.Source: Collider
Russell Tovey has joined the cast of Mawaan Rizwan’s BBC Three pilot Juice, alongside the stand-up’s real-life brother and mother, plus fellow comic Jeff Mirza.
As British Comedy Guide revealed last month, the 35-minute Comedy Slice, which airs this autumn, has also been made for the US streaming service HBO Max. It is based on Two Weeks To Live star Rizwan’s 2018 Edinburgh Fringe show of the same name, which derives from his mother’s advice to him growing up that if “life gives you mangoes, make mango juice”.
Rizwan plays Jamma, who desperately wants to be the centre of attention, but his family are constantly stealing his thunder.
Mum, Farida (Shahnaz Rizwan) always makes everything about her, Dad, Saif (Mirza), ignores him and brother, Isaac (Nabhaan Rizwan), steals the limelight at work – the one place Jamma feels like he’s doing well. And when he finally does get validation from boyfriend Guy (Him & Her star Tovey), he can’t handle it. Jamma’s hyperactive imagination goes into overdrive and the world transforms around him.
As recounted in his 2018 storytelling show, Pakistani-born Rizwan’s mother became a Bollywood star after he featured her in one of his music videos. The wannabe showbusiness megastar’s father is a playwright, while his brother, Nabhaan, who is also an established actor, has just shot HBO Max’s sci-fi mini-series Station Eleven, about a pandemic that wipes out most of the world’s population.
“I did a live show at the Edinburgh Fringe about how my mum always steals my thunder” said Rizwan. “Luckily, I’ve been commissioned to make my own TV pilot. Unluckily, my mum is in it and really steals my thunder.”
Juice is one of three BBC Three comedy pilots from queer writers confirmed by the corporation today, alongside Kat Sadler’s such brave girls [sic] and Soph Galustian’s Peck’Eds.Source: British Comedy Guide
Russell Tovey on ‘The Sister’, the Impact of ‘Years and Years’, and If He’d Like to Return to the Arrowverse
From writer Neil Cross (Luther) and director Niall MacCormick, the dramatic thriller The Sister follows Nathan (Russell Tovey), as he comes face to face with a man (Bertie Carvel) from his past who reminds him of a secret that he’s tried to keep deeply buried. Unable to forget that he attended a party that lead to the shocking death of a young woman, what Nathan has kept from the woman he loves could ultimately tear them apart.
During the virtual junket for the series that’s available to stream at Hulu, actor Russell Tovey spoke to Collider for this 1-on-1 interview about the appeal of working on a project written by Neil Cross, what made Nathan an attractive character to play, exploring the relationship dynamics, and what he thought of the shocking ending. He also talked about the impact of Years and Years, whether he’d like to return to the Arrowverse, the legacy of Looking, and whether he’d ever consider doing a remake of one of his favorite movies.
Collider: This is one of those stories that you want to keep watching to figure out where it’s all leading. How much were you told about this ahead of time? Did you get to read all of the scripts at once, or just the first one?
RUSSELL TOVEY: Oh, I can’t remember. I definitely got to read the pilot script. When it first came to me, I don’t think all four had been written, but obviously I had the outline of what was happening. I agree that it’s definitely one of those shows you can binge, all at once. The way we showed it in the UK was four nights in a row.
On filming ‘Text For You’ during COVID with Priyanka Chopra, Sam Heughan & Celine Dion
On his gray hair: ‘I’ll get ‘YES, DADDY!’ on my Instagram and I’m all for it.’
On gay actors playing gay roles & Jonathan Groff being the ‘most perfect person’
Watch a few interviews Russell did to promote ‘The Sister’ on HULU.
Click on More to see to watch the others…