Alan Cumming: it’s important to see a healthy, successful same-sex marriage on screen

The Good Wife star also talks about feeling an outsider in the US and not owning a proper TV

CBS, sky pics, TL

What’s the view from your sofa?

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We’ve got a room at the top of our townhouse where we go to watch films and Netflix, but we don’t have a proper television. It’s lovely and chilled up there. There’s a screen on the wall that I connect to my phone or we use Apple TV.

Don’t you miss having a real TV?

It seems to upset other people more than me. My mother-in-law came to stay and she was going to add on a couple of extra days, but she decided against it. I asked her why and she said: “Well, it’s because you don’t have a TV!”

So how do you catch up on the latest news without a TV?

I get my news from the radio and the internet. In America, one of the terrible things about the situation we’re in right now is that we’re so obsessed with the craziness of our own politics that we’re not really paying attention to other things going on in the world. For that reason, I listen to BBC World Service all the time. 

What was the last TV show you binged on?

Daniel [Ings, husband] was in The Crown [as Prince Philip’s private secretary Mike Parker], so I watched that. And I also binged on Black Mirror, which was amazing but very dark.

Will you ever return to the UK?

I feel like my life is in New York now. I first came over to rehearse for Cabaret on Broadway 20 years ago. I love it here, but I’ve got a healthy attitude to the city. I feel like a bit of an outsider in New York, but I also feel like an outsider in Scotland, too. I think that’s quite a nice place to be.

Do fans leave you alone in New York?

Sometimes. I did Cabaret again on Broadway a few years ago, and people used to find it funny to shout out my character’s name [Eli Gold] from The Good Wife. At one point, I walked into the audience in a skimpy outfit, my hair all fluffy, wearing lots of makeup and my nipples were out – but people would scream, “Eli!” A lady once ran after me and asked me to sign my book. I said, “No. Nein!”

Following The Good Wife, did you want to do another TV series?

No – I thought, “I want to go back to being a peripatetic actor.” I was all over the place for a while, but I was excited to return to New York to make [crime drama] Instinct. I don’t want to be in LA for nine months of the year working on a long-running TV show. I’ll do a quick movie there, but not TV.

Did playing an openly gay character add to the appeal of Instinct?

This is the first US network drama to have a gay character as the lead, which is an incredible thing and also a terrible thing. I think it’s very important to see a character with a healthy, successful same-sex marriage on screen in an America where gay people are being persecuted again and their rights being removed. It’s the perfect time for a show like this and I’m really proud to be a part of it.

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Instinct starts on Thursday at 9pm on Sky Witness


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