Jason Stuart plays it straight
Jason Stuart is probably one of the busiest men in entertainment today, with his hands in everything from indie films and television spots to his weekly podcast, Absolutely Jason Stuart, and his new standup show, I’m Only Gay on the Weekend. Stuart, who has been out and proud for over twenty years, built a list of credits that includes over 175 film and television roles.
Stuart says he used to hear often that he was a groundbreaker, but he added, “There’s a question of whether groundbreakers get to walk on the ground or whether they become relics. I think the new groundbreakers get to walk now on the same ground they prepared, and I want to be a part of that.”
He also believes strongly in the concept of “paying it forward,” and one of his goals has always been to make it easier for others in the profession. “Nine years ago I started the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) LGBT Actors Committee, and I wanted to support my fellow out actors.” He is currently national co-chair of that same committee, and his work has recently been recognized.
On September 24, in San Francisco, Stuart was presented with the Jose Julio Sarria International Civil Rights Award by the International Imperial Court System during an installment of the LGBTs In The News panel series. Stuart took it all in good humor: “No one’s ever given me an award before, and I’ve been doing stuff for twenty years! So that’s exciting!”
Stuart is extremely excited about the current direction of his career. On the one hand, his standup act remains focused on his life as a single Jewish gay man living in Hollywood. “My new show is called ‘I’m Only Gay on the Weekend’ because being gay every day, as you get older, is just too much! Dating and men, my mother, getting older, and Donald Trump are what my show is all about. I’m obsessed with Donald Trump…. I talk a lot about my mother. She’s seventy-eight but she still shops at Forever 71….”
While Stuart believes the show will speak to audiences of all varieties, gay men are his target audience: “I want to prove comedy promoters wrong, who think that men don’t come out to the clubs. Of course I also hope that they’ll go online and become obsessed with me—maybe even half as much as they’re obsessed with Cathy Griffin. I’ll take half. I won’t call you my gays, but I will call you my brothers. We’re family; she’s someone who just comes over and eats all our food and then leaves. I will sleep over. That’s the difference.”
In his acting career, however, Stuart is playing more and more “straight” roles. “What happens when you turn forty,” Stuart said, “is that there aren’t many roles for LGBT actors. There are very few, so you have to be versatile. I played an art curator in Sleepy Hollow and an a-hole bar manager in a film called Dirty, which features the male acting debut of Chaz Bono. I’m in one of James Franco’s indie films called Holy Land, where I play a hoarder.”
“I also got to play a straight guy in a horror film called The Guest House,” Stuart said. “I played the manager of a golf company…. I just pretended I was my brother, ‘cause the guy is mean 24/7. My brother has just been so angry since Barbara Streisand lost the Oscar in 1973, and he hasn’t recovered.”
Of all his current projects, however, Stuart seemed most excited by one: “I’ll be in a film released next year with Armie Hammer called The Birth of a Nation, and get this: I play a white, heterosexual Christian plantation owner with a wife and kid in 1831.” The film is a biopic of abolitionist Nat Turner, directed by its star, Nate Parker (Beyond the Lights).
Despite the seriousness of the role, Stuart did have some funny moments off set. “I had to say the n-word more than I’ve ever had to in my entire life, because I’ve never really said it outside of a role. So I was in my hotel room on a day off practicing my lines, and the maid knocked on the door. She heard me saying the n-word and she asked me, ‘Is there anything wrong?’ I said, ‘No, no.’ So she asked, ‘Is there anyone in there with you?’ I said, ‘Just Donald Trump.’”
All kidding aside, Stuart reflected on this major step in his career: “Here’s this talented, gifted man giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. So the times, they are a changing, and I get to be a part of it.” And in so doing he proves that versatility isn’t just something for the bedroom.
Photo by Kevin McIntyre