John Stamos on his youth, the gay community, and making out with Ellen Barkin
John Stamos recently took part in a conference call to discuss his appearance on tonight’s episode of The New Normal, where he plays a handsome, well-groomed man who sets tongues wagging over the question of his sexuality. (So he’s more or less playing himself, basically)
But in all seriousness, Stamos was magnanimous as ever, despite fighting the early stages of the flu. He took the time to discuss his respect for New Normal,Glee, and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, his chemistry with Ellen Barkin (who plays Jane on the NBC sitcom), and his admiration and respect for the gay community.
On working with Ellen Barkin:
John Stamos: Oh so good. I mean I think it was our first show where we had to kiss. But, you know, we did the read-through of the first episode and I felt like we’re kind of cat-and-mousing each other and sort of, you know, circling each other. And … after the [retakes] I said to Ryan [Murphy], I said, “What if I just grab in back of her hair and just make out, you know?”
[And] the whole room was silent and then everybody looked at Ryan, and then he said, “Oh my God. That’s a great idea.” He looked at me. … [S]o I think it was the first night or so we did it, and I know Ryan likes surprises. … He’s very spontaneous and he loves to kind of throw out jokes and ideas and stuff. … I’ve known him for so many years. And it’s a great relationship with him. So I thought I’m going to stick my tongue down Ellen’s throat because I want to – elicit some sort of natural weird, you know, surprise or fear or whatever she was going to show, because it would have worked for the character. And the woman didn’t flinch. It wasn’t like, you know, there was nothing happening. I did it – it was just like “okay”. Looks like a normal kiss. Cut. And then we go to lunch. I was hoping for something with Ellen. I mean, I think like, what’s the farthest thing you can touch in the back of a throat? The uvula or whatever it was? I know I hit it and she didn’t even move.
More on making out with Ellen Barkin:
John Stamos: Well, here’s the truth. When you kiss – when you kiss on camera – this is the absolutely truth … you can fake, you know, a French kiss thing. And most of the time you do, and then you sort of just leave it up to the actress, however she feels, because it’s just courtesy as a gentleman actor. I guess you open the door and, you know, if they want to walk into it, they walk. … [B]ut with Ellen, you know, she was ready to play … it wasn’t written into the script so … I just went for it. And I think you guys have been hip to what the show’s about, where I come on and they don’t know if I’m gay or straight. And the truth is, you know, nowadays … who the hell knows? [M]aybe it was more defined 10, 15, 20 years ago if you were a florist or whatever, hair stylist, you know, stereotypical crap. But in this case you just sort of can’t tell. … But man what an actress. I just – we lock in, we look at each other’s eyes and then we just go and it’s … seriously the fastest chemistry I’ve had with someone in a long time on television.
On what it was like to join a show with such a tight cast:
John Stamos: They’re really good. You know, I have to be honest. I didn’t watch the show a lot before. But I knew it was good and I knew the acting was good and I didn’t realize how good it was until I got down there. And the writing. And it’s a very well run show. And it’s sort of exciting because, I mean, I know it’s not like Glee that was, you know, getting ready to blast over the whole world and stuff. But … I still feel a little bit of what I felt when I jumped onto Glee, which was, “You know, they have something here. They have something important and they have something important to say, you know.” And Ryan, once again, put the right people together to get the right message out.
On his respect for Ellen Barkin and creator Ryan Murphy:
John Stamos: Ryan is sort of the modern day Sinatra. Remember when Sinatra used to call Sammy Davis? “Oh by the way, you’re doing a show on this night.” And they go “Okay. What time do we get there?” … It’s sort of what Ryan is. And he’s always been so good to me. And he also, you know, he’s also protected me in the stuff that I’ve done. Like he’ll say, “I’m going go over and write you this. I’m going to write you that.” And he always comes through for me. Always has. I’ve known him for, you know, right after Full House. We talked about doing a show together. … But when Ellen and I started working together, it was just this great chemistry and I think it was sort of set up where I would come on and do one [episode], see if they like me and see if I like, you know, work there. And then all of a sudden we did this great first episode and they were like, “You know, let’s do – how about tomorrow?” And I’m like, “I’m free. Let’s do it.” And working with her has been about the … most interesting relationship. …
[S]he’s not that much older than me but I wanted to play that sort of relationship where – what do you call it, spring, May, April, June, you know? She’s a tiny bit older than me but we don’t talk about it. We don’t do it. We just – we don’t – we just play it. And there’s something fantastic when I look in her eyes, you know. We just get great stuff.
On why he never appears to age…ever:
John Stamos: You know, truthfully I’m very flattered when people say that [I don’t age]. And you have to be careful to not … play into it because then you become, you know, this – you get this Peter Pan syndrome going on. … So I think good genes, and truthfully I do take care of myself in a sense. You know what I do probably the most … I mean if there’s any secret, I sleep a lot. I get a lot of sleep and, you know, rejuvenation. So I try to go to bed early. I always felt that the hours before midnight, 1 o’clock were the most important sleeping hours for me. So I go to bed, you know, 9:00 or 10:00 and I get up at 5:00 or 5:30, 6:00.
On his fitness regimen:
John Stamos: I’ve done, you know, just about everything. I mean I’m not a super weightlifting guy. I’ve been doing pilates lately, which I think is just a big ploy to get me in those straps … with my legs up, because I’m the only guy in the class. And I’ve got my legs in place. … I felt like I’m giving birth or they’re going to do a pap smear or something. I mean … literally I put my ankles in these things and I said, “Is this – you’re making this exercise up, aren’t you?” They said, “No, no. It’s the platypus, it’s the platypus, no. Seriously. Lay down, put your legs in the air. Ignore those 30 women looking. Right. This is what we do here.” You know. But I know they’re trying to make me look silly. I just know it. The platypus. Whoever heard of that?
On whether he’d ever consider doing a full-time show again:
John Stamos: Of course. … But I had some of my people say well maybe [The New Normal] isn’t the show for you because … the ratings aren’t so good and would hold you off for, you know, a bigger guest or an (arc) on a show. … I said, “No, no, no. I get this show. I like this show. And I have not played this character before.” So I think what I’m getting at is that … when you find a good character … you got to go for it, you know. Ryan [Murphy] and I have had a great relationship for years. And, you know, when he asks me to do stuff, I do it because I’m proud of being on his shows. I’m proud of him. I knew him, you know, before all these big shows happened. You know, he came to me originally right after Full House with a show about three hookers that would fix marriages, like Charlie’s Angels – but they were hookers. And it was a little too much for me at the time. But looking back, I’m like “Wow. I should have done that. “And then I know I’m probably one of five guys that say this but, you know, he offered me Nip/Tuck and I didn’t to that.
On whether he’s ever been mistaken for gay:
John Stamos: I mean I grew up with musical theater. I grew up playing with puppets. … I liked magic but I liked all the arts … Like I loved doing makeup. Halloween was my favorite time of the year. … I was quite good. I was a good makeup artist. And I – and a lot of the musicals that I tried out for – I’m such a s***ty singer. I mean later in life I guess I got a little better, but not much. But because I wanted to be in musicals so bad, I studied singing. And it’s not my favorite thing to do, but I can sort of get through a song if it’s in a musical theater setting, you know. I can, you know, play the character. But I mean yes, I mean I think – I even think my father at some point, you know, thought well, okay, he’s gay, you know. But – who cares? So yes, I have been, I guess, mistaken.
On his respect for the gay community:
John Stamos: You know … when I was … 17, 18 my first publicist was gay. His name was [Greg Olipolis]. Rest in peace. I loved that man so much and he taught me so much. And he was gay. And I came from a very conservative Orange County where, you know, … I mean I knew … but I didn’t understand it. … It’s funny because … at Disney World a couple weeks ago … I saw a kid that I grew up with and I guess he turned out to be gay, but he had sort of a feminine thing about him and kids would, you know, beat him up and make fun of him. And I was – back then even – he told me this at Disney World the other day. He said, “Boy you protected me and you said I’m just like everybody else.” And I don’t know where I got that but I know it was solidified later when I was with this – my publicist, [Greg Olipolis], and he said – he said something very simple to me that I’ll never forget.
He said, “You see that girl over there?”
I said, “Yes.”
“You see that feeling you get when you think about kissing her and you get excited about talking to her or asking her on a date?”
I said, “Yeah.”
He goes, “That’s what I feel when I see a guy.”
I said, “Oh.”
He said, “You know that – you know when you see a guy and you just want to be buddies and, you know, you don’t really want to go on a date with them or touch them or whatever …?” I say, “Yeah.” He goes, “That’s what I feel when I see a girl.” I said, “Oh. Okay. I get it.” And that was that.