Some 25 years after his breakthrough role as a gay teen in Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy, Matthew Broderick still has queer appeal. Maybe it’s because he and Nathan Lane were Broadway’s oddest couple in the musical juggernaut The Producers. Or it could be his 10-year marriage to the iconic Sarah Jessica Parker. Either way, with his computer-animated Bee Movie in theaters November 2 and a slew of buzzworthy films slated for release, the 45-year-old Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star shows off his gay bona fides by dishing on past flops and the gay icons in his life.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: Before Torch Song Trilogy, did anyone warn you of the potential perils of accepting a gay role so early in your career?
Matthew Broderick: I had some agents telling me to be careful. I just thought it was a hilarious part and never worried about it. And to be totally honest, I hadn’t gotten any other jobs, so it was a really great job to get. When someone would mention to me, “But it’s a gay character, blah blah blah,” I was like, “Fuck you.” That play was a huge deal when it opened. It was one of the most exciting times of my career.
Ironically, you haven’t played another gay character since.
It seems to have had a reverse effect. I don’t know why. I think because Ferris Bueller came out and I got turned into that.
Have you heard the gay rumor about yourself?
I used to hear it more, but I don’t really hear it that much now — I guess because nobody who’s married and has children is gay. [Laughs] Now that I’m old, I’ve had so much other stuff happen to bother me that that wouldn’t bother me anyway.
Did it ever bother you?
A little bit just when I was trying to score. [Laughs] I’ve always had a lot of gay friends, I grew up in a theater household, so I’ve never been uncomfortable with that.
Which do you think fueled the rumors more: Torch Song, your friendship with Nathan Lane, or your little light green Vespa?
[Laughs] Maybe I am gay! It all sounds suspicious to me. I sold my green Vespa, interestingly enough, to a gay friend, [Hairspray lyricist] Scott Whitman. I got a gray one. You think that’s more butch?
A little. Now settle a bet. Who’s gayer: Nathan or Harvey Fierstein?
Whatever I answer, one of them will be extremely angry at me — but I don’t know which way would be worse for whom. They’re both very strong-willed men. And very gay. [Laughs] I shouldn’t say that, even. Strike that. They’re two of my biggest influences, and I love them both!
The Producers was criticized for, if not being homophobic, encouraging gay stereotypes. How do you respond?
With the Carmen Ghia and Roger De Bris characters? I always felt it was so outrageous and burlesque that it was OK. It never offended me. And it was almost all gay people [behind the show]!
So what’s it like to be married to such a huge gay icon?
It’s amazing. She always had a little bit of that quality even before Sex and the City. It’s an interesting phenomenon with women who cross over like that. There’s a bit of a gay community going on at our house, actually. There are a lot of people who help her get her stunning looks together, and I will say there’s a certain percentage of them who are not straight.
Have you thought about how you might react if your 4-year-old son, James, ever came out as gay? Because with you and SJP as parents —
Yeah, he definitely has a good chance there. He likes singing and musical theater already. It’s all good, but I know it can be hard to be gay or different, and you always want your child to have everything perfectly easy, so I like to make sure he’s playing with a truck every now and then.
Back to Sex and the City — why did you never make a cameo?
I had two times when parts came up that I could’ve done, these damaged men who the women thought were awful, but it never quite worked out. It wasn’t intentional. And then it was over.
The upcoming film version may be your last chance!
Well, nobody’s mentioned it, but [writer-director] Michael Patrick King is hilarious, and I’d love to do it. Now I’m thinking of calling him. Of course, I’d like to not be “the premature ejaculator” or something like that.
In 1985 you played the prince opposite Jennifer Beals in “Cinderella” on Showtime’s Faerie Tale Theatre. Looking back, isn’t that surreal?
It was almost surreal then. But I had sideburns glued on to my face, so that was all I was focusing on. It was fun to meet Eve Arden — another gay icon — who played the stepmother. She was pretty old already, but she was really fun to watch.
I calculated that as your fourth-gayest project after Torch Song, The Producers, and The Stepford Wives.
You might want to move it up, actually, but Stepford Wives was kind of gay. I try not to have regrets, but I certainly don’t think that movie came out as well as we all hoped. That’s being political, isn’t it?
What are you voicing in Jerry Seinfeld’s upcoming Bee Movie?
I’m his bee friend. And my sexuality is not discussed in the film. I’ll leave it to the readers to decide.
We know the monster in your Godzilla was a hermaphrodite, though, because it fertilized its own eggs. How do you think it identified sexually?
[Laughs] I don’t know anything about the categories of hermaphrodite lizards.
What other film projects can we look forward to?
There’s Margaret, if that ever comes out. I have a small part in Then She Found Me, which Helen Hunt directed, with Bette Midler — there ya go, that’s number five on my list. And I just finished a movie called Diminished Capacity with Alan Alda, who is not a gay icon.
What’s your favorite SJP movie?
I like Miami Rhapsody.
The correct answer we were looking for is Hocus Pocus.
I’m sorry. Hocus Pocus. You’re absolutely right. See, she’s had a few Godzillas too, so there’s hope.
Which SJP scent do you prefer: Lovely or Covet?
I’m not sure I could tell them apart. All I can tell you is Sarah smells spectacular.
Do you rehearse these safe, PC answers?
I don’t like trouble.
Let’s try another approach: At home, is SJP more like she appears in the Lovely commercial, or in the Covet commercial where she’s bat-shit crazy?
More like the Covet one, I’d say. She has a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde quality to her.
Now you’re in trouble.
The Advocate, October 2007; extended online version.