Cheyenne Jackson is everywhere these days. His terrific new single "Drive" and "Before You" are now on sale. He can be found on television in "Glee" or '30 Rock'. You can watch him on Broadway this November with Henry Winkler in "The Performers". Thousands turned out to hear his Carnegie Hall concert last year. He is a movie star who will be in the new "Liberace" film with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh..
In fact, there is very little the handsome and extremely talented Jackson can't tackle. With a voice that could seduce an Empire, a charisma that most stars would die for and a charm that reminds us of Cary Grant.
Most importantly Cheyenne Jackson has the reputation of being one of the most kind and thoughtful people in the entertainment business.
The 'out' actor, along with his husband Monte Lapka, has never hesitated to passionately join others in the LGBT community fighting for full equality. You have seen them both, time and time again, donating their energy and talent to events that help the struggle.
Here are "Five Questions .....for Cheyenne Jackson"
1. You came out at the age of nineteen. Did that make your path in the entertainment industry more difficult? How?
That's difficult to answer simply because there is no point of reference with which to compare. I have never been a closeted actor so I don't know how that feels. In some ways being out made it easier because never was there anything to hide. It freed me as a person, therefore, I felt more free as an actor, and somehow I always get to kiss the pretty girl, so it's working out just fine.
2. You are considered one of the most talented and versatile creative talents in the industry. You have done film, stage, television, cabaret , recorded albums, composed music and been in major Broadway hits. Has any of them earned the right to be your favorite and your greatest passion?
This is a good question, and one that I have been asked many times over the years and my answer is always the same and it's a long one, (apologies in advance). Whatever medium I am working in at any given time, that is my favorite. I love the immediacy, adrenaline and risk factor of Broadway. The idea that what happens in the theatre that night, is special and fleeting and will never be experienced again.
I relish the pace of television. The challenge of learning lots of new material in a short amount of time. You have to trust yourself enough to make a strong choice and then move on. You can't wallow in any self doubt because you simply don't have time. In filmmaking I love the atmosphere and the technicality of it all. A movie is like a giant puzzle with scenes shot out of order. That forces you to be focused and prepared so you know exactly where your character is in the arc of the story in any given scene.
This is true for all aspects of performing, but particularly television and film, I live for the teamwork. For example, if someone drops a line, if someone's radio goes off, if the boom is in frame, if a prop isn't right, if the camera has to be reloaded mid take, you have to start again. everyone has to be on top of their game. The feeling of everyone working toward the same goal is thrilling and communal.
Cabaret and concert work is a great high, but the challenge is that you are forced to be yourself. Not a small feat for some actors. We are usually playing characters, and in these two disciplines, the only way you will truly succeed is if you let in the audience.. Anyone can get up and sing pretty songs and tell a few jokes. But unless you let the audience see your heart and feel a connection to you, it doesn't work.
Composing music and songwriting is what I have been focusing on a lot of late. There is nothing more satisfying then coming up with a idea, maybe it's just a few bars, maybe just a sentence, or maybe a melodic hook of some kind,.....then fleshing it out through trial and error. All the while you are trying to be objective, yet still wanting to trust your gut and keep in mind your original thoughts and honoring your initial intent.
Over the year I have learned from some of the best and most successful songwriters in the business, that your first instinct is 9 times out of 10 the best. So it is imperative to have a recorder handy while your brainstorming and working. When the song is done, it is so bloody satisfying. it's a part of you, then you share it. deep, but true .
3. In November, you are opening in the play "The Performers" co-starring the legendary Henry Winkler. Share with us your anticipation about playing with Winkler who is not only talented but viewed as one of the kindest persons in the industry.
Often you hear in this industry that"so and so is SO nice, etc...." and you sometimes find that not to be the case. Everything I have ever heard about Henry is how kind and generous he is in spirit. I am naturally drawn to people like that. (I am talking to you Judith Light!). So fortunately for all of us working on "The Performers" , Henry Winkler lives up to that reputation. He is the best. He is real, he's funny, he's a great actor, and he brings dark chocolate to us. He's truly interesting, but most of all, INTERESTED in others, and he's fucking hysterical in the role of Chuck Wood. You'd be crazy to miss it. In his first scene he....well, you'll see.
4. You just recently quietly got married to Monte Lapka (above) a successful physicist. You have been together for twelve years. What advice would you give other couples who have a public and private life? What has made it work for Monte and you?
Here are ten reasons that my marriage to Monte works:
1. Monte is not an actor.
2. He appreciates what I do and is proud of me. However he isn't impressed by show business in general, and doesn't get excited to meet famous people or going to fancy events. He doesn't have a twitter account and has no aspirations to be famous in any way. When asked if we would ever be a part of a reality show, he quoted a friend of ours (a young, beautiful dark-haired Tony-winning Broadway darling) who once replied to a ludicrous question with the blunt..."I'd rather S*** in my own mouth." . He is more interested in what you have to say about life and the world we live in, than what movie you just did.
3. He puts up with my mercurial actor nature.
4. We both fully realize that there is no perfect person. As soon as you come to the realization that you can't change someone, and truly accept each other for who you are, even if one of you isn't very tidy (me), or one of you noisily eats chips while the other is trying to get some work done (him)....then you are good to go.
5. Not only do we love each other, we actually like each other and would rather hang out together than with anybody else.
6. We talk a lot. Communication is key. Even if I am on the other coast, we speak at least 6-8 times a day.
7. We fight. Then we get over it. It's important to disagree and have arguments and feel safe enough with each other to get it out, but it's also important to be able to let it go. Some just take a little longer to do that. (me.) But I'm getting faster. Every fight is truly just about wanting to be heard. You can thank Oprah for that little chestnut.
8. He has a wicked, dry sense of humor and doesn't suffer fools. That always gives me an metaphysical boner.
9. Even after 12 years, I miss him when he's not around.
10. SEPARATE BATHROOMS
5. What is the most embarrassing moment that has happened to you stage, screen or music?
I've had a couple voice cracks on high notes, but that's a boring answer, I know. In my Broadway play coming up, I have some dialogue and some costumes that are gonna take some real cojones to say and wear without some initial embarrassment. But that's why I do what I do. Cuz if something scares you, it means you should do it. Again, thank you Oprah.
Below is a video of Cheyenne Jackson singing my favorite song.