Currently in his seventh season as a Saturday Night Live cast member, Jason Sudeikis stays humble as he promotes his first lead film role opposite Owen Wilson in Hall Pass, a Farrelly brothers buddy comedy in theaters February 25. But the 35-year-old recurring 30 Rock star, who also voices a gay character on Fox’s The Cleveland Show, is happy to brag about bumping mustaches with Jon Hamm and tasting Zac Efron’s foot.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: Do you Google yourself, Jason?
Jason Sudeikis: Every day, now that I’ve learned how to spell my last name. Why?
I found that a quick search for “Jason Sudeikis shirtless” will direct you to some particularly rabid gay fans.
[Laughs] Yes, I have been made aware of that, and it’s flattering. I don’t think it’s all that interesting to see me shirtless, but what can you do?
Do guys ever hit on you?
I think so. No guy’s offered to whisk me away on a boat to some amazing island, unfortunately, but I have been high-fived a few times with a thoughtful, lingering glance.
Especially when you grew a mustache for your supporting parts in The Bounty Hunter and Going the Distance, I’m sure.
Gay guys, straight guys — everybody looks at you a little differently when you’re rocking a mustache with no sense of irony.
Growing up in Kansas, what was your first exposure to gay people?
This is going to sound so hackneyed, but my mom took me and my sisters to a lot of theater when I was growing up. My mom also played a lot of Broadway show tunes in her car — Dreamgirls, The Fantasticks, and all that Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff — so I knew all the words to La Cage aux Folles by the age of 10. I grew up in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, which has a very big gay community. Both my younger sisters took dance classes, and I had a hunch that some of their instructors and friends in that circle were gay. Besides that, I also saw the movie A Chorus Line a whole shitload of times before puberty even set in.
Tell me about the SNL sketch in which you kissed Jon Hamm on the hog.
Well, technically I kissed him on the mouth, but — oh, you mean the motorcycle. SNL already has those “Kissing Family” sketches, where the joke is that the family is way too into each other, so Jon and I agreed in rehearsal, “Let’s not play this for laughs with slapping tongues. Let’s kiss for real. We’ll bump mustaches and kiss like we mean it.” So that’s what we did. A lot of people didn’t know what to make of it because it seemed to come out of nowhere — did they go through all that just for the kiss? — but we were having a good time playing the satire of CHiPs. These guys were happily married to women, but they got caught up in the moment, riding around on a motorcycle through the beautiful foliage. The sketch was written by James Anderson, one of our gay writers, and Michael O’Brien, one of our straight writers, and they delighted in the details of the scene beyond just building to a kiss between two of Liz Lemon’s ex-boyfriends.
Is Jon a good kisser?
As far as I can tell. I’ve kissed a handful of fellas in various improv shows and stuff, but I’d never done it with a mustache or kissed someone else with a mustache, so that was interesting. It’s off the bucket list!
Before that kiss, can you guess the last time you caused such a big stir on the gay blogs?
Oh, man. The sketch when I put Zac Efron’s foot in my mouth?
That is correct, sir.
Wow, I didn’t have to phone a friend or anything. Truth be told, I hadn’t done that in any of the rehearsals. I just did it on the air to screw with him. The scene is basically about an older brother teaching his younger brother how to get girls. Zac’s a nice guy, we got along really well, and he really enjoyed that scene. There was so much good energy by the time we did it for the show, I thought, I’m just going to try it and make him fight me, but I was able to overpower him and stick half his foot in my mouth. I figured if anyone in the world has a clean foot, it’s got to be Zac Efron.
What did his foot taste like?
Just any old foot. That’s one of the nice things about life: It doesn’t matter how good-looking you are or how well your career’s going, all our feet taste the same.
Homoerotic humor on SNL is common, especially guys kissing other guys for a gag. Do you enjoy those scenes?
It depends what the joke is. I can’t say it works for me every time, but I liked it in that Hamm scene because it seemed more playful than trying to shock. Listen, dressing up like J.Lo is what’s really tough. I hadn’t done drag on the show before, and Lorne Michaels thought it would be really funny if Bill Hader and I were J.Lo impersonators. Putting on fake eyelashes was about the most difficult thing I’ve had to do. Eye makeup in general is very hard.
How do you respond to criticism that SNL too often resorts to cheap gay jokes?
I remember when Paul Rudd hosted in 2008, people thought everything in the show had a gay slant. As far as that content, we fell into a trap of not embracing the variety of a variety show, but the temperature of homophobia at our workplace is incredibly low. We have gay writers and lots of other people behind the scenes who are gay, and we all really care about each other. There’s no judgment or a desire to ostracize and make entire groups of people the butt of a joke. We’ll go after people like Sarah Palin, understandably so, but offending vast groups of people would just make the bars we hang out at outside of work more awkward.
Why hasn’t there been an openly gay SNL cast member besides Terry Sweeney for one season in the ’80s?
I have no idea. But if we can just get a gay Asian lady on the show, that would scratch lots of things off the list. America is a big place, and we’ve got a lot of minorities who haven’t been on SNL yet, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that the show lasts another 36 years. One day, somebody will go, “Why aren’t there straight people on SNL anymore?”
Are there or have there ever been other gay cast members who just aren’t out?
Uh… not that I know of. I could throw out a couple of names for fun, but I genuinely can’t think of anyone.
One of the characters you voice on The Cleveland Show, Terry Kimple, will come out as gay in a February episode and fall for another gay character voiced by Justin Timberlake. When this news broke back in August, the headlines were usually some variation of “Justin Timberlake Goes Gay for Jason Sudeikis.”
[Laughs] Yeah, I caught that. I saw him at SNL when he came for the first episode of this season, and we hadn’t seen each other since we had recorded that episode, so I was like, “Hey, my gay boyfriend!” Then we shared a tender embrace. When I first heard they were getting Timberlake to play Terry’s love interest, I was like, “Perfect! Terry should be so lucky.”
Is this a one-episode crush, or will Terry continue to be gay?
I believe he’s going to be gay from now on, but it won’t dominate the storylines. It’s almost like when Ellen came out in “The Puppy Episode,” but then it became something that was just part of the character.
Do you have a dude-crush?
Is Kim Kardashian a dude? Can we just put a mustache on her? [Laughs] You know who I love every time I see him perform? Denis O’Hare. He’s just fantastic. But just to keep it in the Mad Men universe, I’m going to go with John Slattery. He’s a cool dude, he cracks me up, and his wife kicks ass.
SNL stars have had varying success breaking into movies. As you await the release of your two biggest film roles to date in Hall Pass and this summer’s Horrible Bosses, do you feel any pressure to be the next Will Ferrell?
No, there’s no pressure there. I had a really good time making both those movies, I hope people like them, and it’s out of my control now. It is weird — I hate saying that because actors always overuse that word to describe their career — but right now it’s all just potential. Lucky for me, I’ve got an awesome job at SNL and a great group of friends and coworkers to take my mind off of that, so I don’t feel like all my eggs are in those baskets. My folks get a kick out of it, though. When my dad, my sister, and I went to see True Grit over the holidays, there was this big poster of Owen and me up in the theater, and they got a bigger bang out of it than I did. And when I was walking with Bill Hader after work the other night, we saw the giant 40-foot billboard of Owen and me in Times Square, and I was like, “Oh, look at that.” Well, it’s of Owen, and I’m popping up over his shoulder, which is totally fine.
The funniest men on SNL haven’t always been the most conventionally handsome, but you’ve emerged as the handsome guy who dates hot chicks. Have your looks helped or hindered your comedy career?
That question is way too complimentary. Yes, the girls I’ve dated have been super-pretty, and that I can tell you objectively. But for whatever reason, even when I look my absolute best, I just don’t like looking at myself, and I certainly felt that way before I did this stuff for a living. I don’t mean to sound overly modest, because I totally get what you’re getting at, but there’s a part of me that thinks, Am I handsome? I don’t know. I’m not James Franco, for God’s sake. Listen, I’m just glad I have all my hair at this point.
So was the unnamed inside source in that recent US Weekly item correct? Did you really do a BluePrint cleanse because you felt puffy next to January Jones [his former girlfriend] in photos?
That whole thing was kind of fucked up, because it made me look like a spokesperson. I tried it the week after I came back from Kansas City, where I’d spent my birthday and gorged so much barbeque and beer. I bought it for five days, but I only lasted three. The reason [Us Weekly] said I did it was a little goofy, but yes, I’ve done it.
By the way, I miss you and Kristen Wiig as the “Two A-Holes.” Please bring them back.
I appreciate that. I assume Kristen gets that as much as I do, and I’m always flattered that people still remember those characters. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough room for them on SNL because there are so many real a-holes out there to poke fun at.
The Advocate, March 2011 issue; extended online version.