Beau’s character sheds light on a hidden past
In award terms, actor Beau Bridges (right) has been around the block many times.
With three wins from 15 Emmy nominations, his heartwrenching turn as closeted gay man Barton Scully in Masters of Sex has him in the running once again this year (for the second year in a row). He has a Golden Globe and even a Grammy yet the 73-year-old says it’s still a thrill, as the old cliche goes, “just to be nominated”.
“It really is,” he says. “The acting family is a huge part of my life. I liken acting to a whole series of births and deaths. It’s such an intense time in your life, you work hard and everyone has the same goal, then it’s over.”
In season three, the storyline leaps ahead four years to the imminent release of Masters’ controversial book on sexuality. Bridges says Scully’s complicated situation is unlikely to be resolved.
“Suffice it to say that Barton Scully is as confused and in a conundrum as he was the first two seasons, poor guy,” he says.
“To be a closeted gay in the 50s and 60s, … there was so much ignorance afoot in the land at that time, I can remember. Even now, unfortunately, there still is. But I think we’re doing better. When I was growing up, I must have had several gay friends, but I had no idea. We just didn’t talk about any kind of sexuality, especially homosexuality.”
If Bridges could write his own happy ending for Scully, he says it would be very simple.
“I have five children, and the thing I wish the most for them is to find a mate, somebody they can travel through life with and has their back, someone to share jokes and journeys and laughter. So I would hope that Barton could find somebody he can hang with, relax and not worry about it.”
Having filmed Masters of Sex and comedy The Millers concurrently, Bridges has no desire to slow down.
“My dad was an actor, Lloyd, and he had a long, long career. He never stopped. I remember wheeling him in in his chair for his last couple of stops ... I’d wonder whether he had it in him, but he’d go on set, and the lights came up, and the old fire and passion was there. If I’m blessed to have enough time to do that I’ll be happy.”
“When I was growing up, I must have had gay friends,
but I had no idea”
BEAU BRIDGES ON THE CHANGING TIMES
MASTERS OF SEX, SBS, THURSDAY, 9.30PM