From his film debut in 1996’s I Shot Andy Warhol to this summer’s Broken English and The Ten, Justin Theroux’s career choices have been as hip, quirky, and gay-friendly as he is — Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and The Broken Hearts Club, anyone? Still going full throttle and making his directorial debut with the romantic comedy Dedication, he gives us the gospel on his Sedaris-spurred sins, chronic shirtlessness, and indiscreet “gay husband.”
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: You strike me as almost unapproachably cool. Do you get that a lot?
Justin Theroux: From my mom. She doesn’t approach me that often. What I get a lot of is “I used to think you were such a dick, but you’re not.” Maybe it’s just because I dress like a dick.
How conscious are you of your gay fan base?
I was conscious of it as far as the gay New York theater crowd, because that seems to be my forte: I always played gay and English. Literally, if it was a gay Englishman, I got the part. From [playwrights] Joe Orton [Loot] to Mark Ravenhill [Shopping and Fucking] to Frank McGuinness [Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme] to [Kevin Scott’s] Hide Your Love Away. That’s four gay English people I played, and that’s pretty much my whole theater repertoire in New York.
A search for you on MySpace yields a profile for “Justin Theroux’s Gay Husband.” Anything you’d like to tell us?
[Laughs] That’s clearly my gay husband making MySpace pages again. That’s hysterical. People have directed me to various sites that have said, “I know he’s gay, I’ve seen him sucking dick, blah blah blah.” But there’s no delicate way to be like, “I’m not!” So I usually just don’t comment on the subject, and then my girlfriend gets angry.
Homo opportunities must have presented themselves to you. Ever given it a shot?
I’ve never given it a shot, but I’ve had drunken advances in college — I did go to Bennington, after all. But it didn’t really pique my interest. I hope I’m comfortable enough in myself that if I even had a percentage of any of that in me, I would feel free to explore it. Actually, I know I would. But I feel pretty hetero.
Any celebrity dude crushes?
I worked with Colin Farrell [in Miami Vice], and he’s really charming and charismatic. Alain Delon, maybe? I think with Alain Delon anyone would try something out. He’s to film what Lou Reed was to music: You can’t get any cooler.
Who’s your best gay friend?
Nicholas Martin. He directed me in Observe the Sons of Ulster at Lincoln Center. He’s a mentor of mine and probably my favorite gay person in the world. But not because he’s gay!
You played not one but two of Carrie Bradshaw’s boy toys on Sex and the City, only one season apart. Did they not think we’d notice?
A lot of people didn’t notice! Apparently it’s a Sex and the City trivia question. They shaved my head for the second one — that’s how they thought they were going to get around it: “We’ll shave his head and no one will ever know!”
Which one are you more like: pretentious, artsy Jared or prematurely ejaculating mama’s boy Vaughn?
[Laughs] I’m a combination of both. Fortunately, people’s memories are short, so it was only after the first week that it aired that people pointed and said, “Hey, you’re the premature ejaculator!” No, I don’t think I’m like any of them. But that’s my new favorite thing to play: total douchebags, as I did in Broken English. Insincerity is by far my favorite thing to portray on film.
Along with Billy Crudup and Mandy Moore, you cast your good friend Amy Sedaris in Dedication.
Well, Amy owed me a favor because I did a bunch of illustrations for her book [I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence], so I was like, “You better come play ‘Single Mom.’” Amy was hysterical. She had created a whole backstory for her two-second part. She would show up on set and say, “When’s my Billy Crudup rape scene?” I’d say, “You’re just playing a mother.” And she’d be like, “Is she divorced? Can she have babies? Is her womb dead?” We laughed a lot on set.
Amy also cast you as the driver’s ed instructor in her film Strangers With Candy.
Yeah, I played Carlo Honklin. We were trying to figure out what that character was about, and she said, “He’s probably a guy with a big dick who never gets to use it because he’s so dorky.”
What do you and Amy do together — smoke pot and make crafts?
I can’t smoke pot because it makes me cry. I get really paranoid. But she has a wood-burning kit with the soldering tool, and I did a mushroom-shaped pot jar, drew a pot leaf on it, and wrote pot in psychedelic writing on the wood. We did that on a crafty day.
Who’s the Mary and who’s the Rhoda?
[Laughs] I think it’s two Rhodas!
Which film was gayer: Romy and Michele or Broken Hearts Club?
Oh, my God, that’s a death match. There’s that weird thing of the gay community loving the hyper-female storyline, but I’d have to go with Broken Hearts Club because it’s just so gay — literally.
What research did you do to prepare for your Broken Hearts role?
You know what? Being in New York theater, I’ve done all the research I ever need to do. It was so nice to do a movie where the themes were gay but it didn’t club people over the head with it. If you took it out of the gay context, it was really more of a Big Chill. One of my favorite C-list celebrity sightings — which I’ve never gotten before — was when gay pride was just in town and I was walking down the street and someone said, “That’s the guy from The Broken Hearts Club!” Made me laugh. That’s the first and last time that’ll ever happen.
Reviewing your oeuvre, I noticed you go shirtless quite a bit.
I’m not shirtless quite a bit! I was shirtless for Charlie’s Angels, but what else?
Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, Muse’s “Hysteria” music video…
Oh, yeah, that’s true. I was actually completely naked in Six Feet Under. That was completely terrifying. Actually, the only reason I did that music video was because it was right after Charlie’s Angels and I was already primed for it. I worked really hard for Charlie’s Angels. It was one of those situations where someone else was paying for the trainer and the diet, so it was kind of the way Oprah does it. I’ll never do that again, and I’ll never be in that great of shape again. I wouldn’t do the same video today.
Hopefully you reaped the benefits of that bod in your personal life.
I had a girlfriend, so I was all set. She got to enjoy an upward fluctuation in our relationship.
Did you know you recently lost out on the title of PETA’s “sexiest vegetarian” to The Tonight Show’s bandleader, Kevin Eubanks?
I did? Fucking Eubanks! Wait, who is Kevin Eubanks? That’s crazy. Just tell him to wait till next year.
Who’d you base your Jesus on in The Ten?
I just read Scripture day and night. I tried to live like Jesus, walk like Jesus, talk like Jesus — sort of a “What would Jesus do?” No, I was like a Latin lover Jesus — more Julio Iglesias than J.C. But it’s a big deal to join that club: [Jim] Caviezel, [Willem] Dafoe, me. [Laughs] I used to tear tickets at a movie theater, so I saw The Last Temptation of Christ, like, 600 times.
Which commandment do you break most often?
Worshipping false idols, I guess. I don’t even know what that means. Like, um, Kelly Clarkson? What are they again — lying, stealing…?
Adultery, coveting stuff…
I don’t covet my neighbors’ wives, but I do covet stuff. Is that a commandment? Thou Shalt Not Covet Stuff? I covet a lot of Amy’s shit, actually. She gave one of the things that I coveted, which is a picture of a girl with syphilis that she named Phyllis. She’s got a great old medical poster of a kid with rickets and big funny bowlegs. I really want that. Make sure that’s in the article so she knows that!
If your name were a verb — as in “Man, I totally Therouxed that” — what would it mean?
God, that’s a hard one. But it would probably be something amazing.
Might it involve taking off your shirt?
[Laughs] Yeah, totally. It would involve taking off your shirt and throwing up simultaneously while your shirt’s over your head.
The Advocate, August 2007 issue; extended online version.