THE BIG ASK RON RIFKIN Brothers & Sisters
Do you want to be straight or do you want to be gay on the show? Well, I think it’s much more interesting for a guy like me and like a 65-year-old guy to struggle with this dilemma and figure out some way to work it out. I don’t know. You know why I want him to come out? Because I want Matthew’s character, Kevin and me, I want to go to like a bar. I want him to take me to a gay bar. What do you feel has been the biggest development in your character from season one to now? I think there was a struggle with Saul because it started off this way and then it had a little curve that way, and it wasn’t until the end, middle to the end of the season, that one of the writers said, ‘‘Who is Saul? Does he fit? He’s sort of the patriarch of the family now, but why isn’t he married?’’ And one of the writers said, ‘‘Maybe he’s gay’’. And I got a phone call from the writers asking how I felt about that, and I was, you know, very turned on and very excited about the possibility of exploring the world of a guy like that at that time who was clearly very close to his family. You know, had no immediate family of his own except for the nephews and nieces and a sister. And I feel that’s challenging for the writers. It’s challenging for an audience, and also it’s challenging to me as an actor. I look forward to that. How far in advance do you know what’s going to happen in the show?
Really, not in advance. When I say I still don’t know if Saul’s gay, I suspect, but we really don’t know. It’s a very living, breathing process, and we as actors need to stay open to the possibility just as they as writers need to stay open to what we feel and we see how our characters are changing. I was going to say it’s a very odd thing. If you’re an actor like we are and used to the theatre, the theatre’s quite different because there’s a play. Five weeks of rehearsal. If it’s a new play, the writer’s there making changes. We did a play together here in town written by the same guy who created this show. And the play was breathing and alive and changing, but when we got in front of the audience, that was the play. We had prepared for it, and we did it every night, and it was a new audience every night and it was alive. This is so different. It’s such a different experience for us. Somebody called the show the new thirtysomething. Is it? They were a family, too. A community that becomes a family. Do you know the demographics of this show? Who do you think is watching it? You know, last night I had to do a charity thing. There were people there who were like 80 and 70 and 60, and then there were young Hollywood and rich people and poor people. I have to tell you that I got asked like 40, 50 times, am I gay. So I think the demographic is odd for this show. When I go to New York on the subway, I can tell that people watch the show more than Alias. Alias was more of a cult show. It (Brothers & Sisters) is really broad. What would you say to people who haven’t seen the show to attract them to it? You’re not going to see me naked in this show. I can tell you that. When I did Sex and the City it was a long time ago and my legs aren’t as good now as they were then. I had to get down to my underwear. This show basically is about forgiveness and loving in spite of and because of our human frailties.