Ru­fus Hound

GT (UK) - - CUCUMBER - WORDS RYAN BUTCHER

How did you get in­volved with Cu­cum­ber and work­ing with Rus­sell T Davies? I wish there was an amus­ing show­biz anec­dote about how I met Rus­sell at Stephen Fry’s house and we just struck up a con­ver­sa­tion – but there isn’t! My agent phoned and asked if I wanted to au­di­tion. As a big fan of Doc­tor Who – and only re­ally a fan of Doc­tor Who after Rus­sell recre­ated it – he’s a man whose work and con­tri­bu­tion to Bri­tish tele­vi­sion drama over the years has been the gold stan­dard. I re­mem­ber watch­ing Bob and Rose, and The Sec­ond Com­ing is gen­uinely one of my all time favourite things that’s been on tele­vi­sion... So it’s a bit of a dream come true work­ing with him, then? It ab­so­lutely was. At the point where my agent said his name, he added: “There’s a cou­ple of things to bear in mind...” But be­fore he even fin­ished that sen­tence, I said I didn’t care what they were – I’ll do it. So he tells me I’m play­ing a gay man and it’s very phys­i­cal and I have to get naked – but I’m like, “Yeah, but it’s for Rus­sell T Davies, so it’s fine.” If Rus­sell T Davies asks you to get naked, then you HAVE to get naked, right? Yeah, pretty much. The first cou­ple of jobs I did on the stage both re­quired me to full on snog the face off some in­cred­i­bly at­trac­tive young women. And I’m a mar­ried man and a fa­ther of two, so the only way I could pos­si­bly jus­tify kiss­ing very good look­ing young women is that it’s act­ing. But that’s the point. In act­ing, there should be ab­so­lutely no dif­fer­ence in who­ever you’re kiss­ing as long as it’s part of telling a story. So the point that there were any kind of caveats about kiss­ing another man is just old fash­ioned fuck­ing non­sense bull­shit. You can’t go, “Sorry, I gotta kiss a poofter? No, sorry!” You have to be the worst kind of fuck­ing ar­se­hole to be like that. It was never a big thing for me. But you’re star­ring along­side another straight mar­ried man with kids him­self, in Vincent Franklin, so there must’ve been some ca­ma­raderie there? There was. What we could both ab­so­lutely agree on though was that it was in­cred­i­bly lib­er­at­ing. There’s al­ways been a voice in the back of my head when work­ing with young women ac­tors, where the very act of kiss­ing naked could be deeply un­com­fort­able for them. Which I can com­pletely un­der­stand. Even though you’re act­ing, there should be some ba­sic hu­man de­cency. But the lovely thing about work­ing with Vincent, us both be­ing straight men, was that we were meant to be play­ing th­ese two guys ab­so­lutely into it and turned on – so we could just ab­so­lutely go for it, be­cause there was never a sense from ei­ther of us that feels like, “Oh, you’re re­ally get­ting off on this.” There was never any sub­text of that be­ing the case, so we were ul­ti­mately freed up for it to be as steamy as we could make it. With­out spoil­ing too much, can you tell us a bit about your character? I’m only in one episode, so I cer­tainly don’t feel I can take a huge amount of credit. But the main character Henry has suf­fered some­thing of a cri­sis in the be­gin­ning of the se­ries and is try­ing to get back out there, and I’m somebody that he meets through an app, a bit like Grindr. And they get on well. This episode ba­si­cally is the three or four big char­ac­ters all go­ing out on dates on the same night. Did work­ing on Cu­cum­ber open you up to a lot of new ter­mi­nol­ogy? For ex­am­ple – “Grindr?” There wasn’t any­thing in there I hadn’t heard be­fore – but there was this phrase “power bot­tom.” I’d heard the term be­cause there are some very flirty, very sexy gay men who’ve of­fered them­selves to me at var­i­ous points, and I’d heard the phrase, but once I read the script I

Co­me­dian and ac­tor Ru­fus Hound is just one of many guest stars in Cu­cum­ber, star­ring in episode four as Ru­pert – a man in hot pur­suit of Henry...

thought, ‘Maybe I don’t ac­tu­ally know what it means...’ So I asked some gay friends about it. But be­cause I had to SAY it, I didn’t want to say it in a way that made it sound like it was com­ing from the mouth of somebody who didn’t know what it was. “Power bot­tom” feels like a lot of syl­la­bles to me. Why hasn’t been re­duced down to like “power butt”, or “pow butt?” All of th­ese things usu­ally end up be­ing con­trac­tions... “Po-bo,” maybe? Po bo! That feels like you could call your­self a po bo and that feels straight for­ward – but power bot­tom feels like the sort of thing you’d have to put on a job ap­pli­ca­tion. That’s what I want the GT head­line to be. “White, mid­dle class, straight man tells gay peo­ple what terms they’re al­lowed to use.” You must have some gay mates who’re pretty chuffed that you’re in the big­gest gay drama since Rus­sell’s last one – Queer as Folk. I’ve got lots of gay friends, and when I told them it was writ­ten by the bloke that’d done Queer as Folk, they were like “Oh, that’s great.” But I think peo­ple who’ve been in­volved KNOW it’s go­ing to be ab­so­lutely mas­sive. In that bril­liant way that Rus­sell does, when he made Queer as Folk it was im­por­tant tele­vi­sion be­cause it was the first big gay drama. With this again, there IS a sense that it’s im­por­tant tele­vi­sion, but I think it only has that about it be­cause it’s writ­ten by the bloke who wrote Queer as Folk. It feels to me at least, as a so­ci­ety, we’ve moved on enough that hav­ing a gay drama isn’t the thing where the woman pick­ing up the Daily Mail drops her tea cup and her jaw hits the floor and she’s im­me­di­ately on the phone to the church coun­cil. It’s only given an im­por­tance be­cause it’s the writer of Queer as Folk, how­ever, be­cause it’s Rus­sell T Davies and be­cause of how bril­liant he is, it may yet be im­por­tant drama be­cause it will say things that shed more light on the gay ex­pe­ri­ence as it is in the 2010’s. I’d rather we lived in a world where it was less ob­vi­ous what was in­ter­est­ing about a gay TV show than the op­po­site.

Cu­cum­ber episode four

@ru­fushound

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