Q&A with Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming’s incredible career keeps on rolling. We sat down with the stage and film actor to talk theater, restaurants, his movie-making aspirations, and what it’s like to actually play a normal person for once!

GGM: On the Good Wife, you have quite an ensemble cast. How did that all come together and how were you approached for that role?

AC: I wasn’t in it at the start. I came in about two-thirds of the way through the first season. I just got asked. I’d never seen it. I knew Julianna Margulies was in it because there was a picture of her outside my apartment, but I didn’t know anything about the show. I thought “Why are they asking me to do this? It doesn’t seem right.” My agent said “it’ll be really good, and you’ll enjoy it!” And here I am.

GGM: I’m guessing that’s happened a few times in your career, considering you’ve taken many films we might not expect to see you in.

AC: I suppose that’s what I like, always playing a new thing. But with this one, it was one of the first times I’ve gotten to play, you know, a real person (laughs). I’m usually cast as a crazy person or an animal.

GGM: We could say versatile.

AC: I’ll take it!

GGM: Who have been some of your acting inspirations through your career?

AC: I’m not one for idols. I’m inspired by people who do great work. It’s just your job, and I think it’s good to be good at your job, but I’m inspired by people like Cyndi (Lauper), actually, who do something beyond the actual work and they give something back and contribute in a positive way to society. That’s more inspiring to me than someone who’s good at my job.

GGM: And how long have you known Cyndi?

AC: I met Cyndi at a Stephen Sondheim birthday. We were both singing at it, and then after her and I were on Broadway together for the Threepenny Opera, so we had a very intense, fun experience doing that.

GGM: Do you still go to a lot of Broadway shows?

AC: I do, but it’s not really my bag. I’m more an Off-Broadway kinda guy. My favorite show is called Sleep No More, on 28th Street, in a sight-specific, interactive piece with the audience based on Macbeth and the film Rebecca. There’s a forest, and you wander around this hospital… it’s crazy! I like things like that more.

GGM: So all roads lead to Macbeth, huh?

AC: It’s a little nuts! There’s a novel of Macbeth and I just read the audiobook for it.

GGM: A movie you made a while ago you co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in was The Anniversary Party. That’s an all-encompassing project. Is that something you’d like to do again?

AC: Yes, I would. I directed another film, just on my own. I liked it less (laughs). I’ve got so much going on, though. I entertain a romantic notion I’ll go off to my house in the country and just write a film, maybe with Jennifer (Jason Leigh) again. That would be lovely. We do talk about it, but what’s so special about that film is that it just sort of happened. We got the story, got the people, got the money. It really happened very quickly, and it was just the loveliest thing. We were really spoiled by that. It’s quite daunting, and I’d never have the time right now to do something like that. I do make little videos, though. I made a musical condom commercial with Ricki Lake last year.

GGM: When you’re in New York, what do you like to do when you’re in town? Are you a restaurant buff? Movies?

AC: I like to go out with friends in bars and have a laugh mostly.

GGM: What type of food do you like?

AC: I’m kind of weirdly veggie. There’s a noodle place on 10th street in the East Village called Rai Rai Ken that I like. And the best pizza in the world is at a place called Gnoccho on 10th and B. The Pizza guy is called Federico and he’s crazy good. I’d eat in that restaurant every night, but I’d be the size of a horse. It’s just the best pizza, with truffle oil.

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