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|Actor Willie Garson has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows. He’s been called the
good luck charm of the Farrelly Brothers with memorable cameos in three of their movies – from There’
s Something About Mary to Fever Pitch – and is currently appearing in the hit cable series “White
Collar.” But it is as the foppish dandy Stanford Blatch, best friend of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie
Parker in the Sex & the City television series and films that Garson has become instantly recognizable
to millions of fans. Now the “openly straight” Garson, who hails from New Jersey, is back in more
outlandish Stanford get ups in Sex and the City 2 in which the character marries his one time enemy
Anthony Marantino (played by the hilarious out comic actor Mario Cantone). The over the top
wedding sequence (complete with swans) which kicks off the movie finds Stanford and Anthony being
united in marital bliss by none other than gay icon Liza Minnelli (who then entertains the guests with
a rendition of “Single Ladies”). In town to appear at a screening of the film, Garson is affable and
chatty about both subjects light and dark – though not nearly as sensationally dressed as his alter
WINDY CITY TIMES (WCT): After all those broken romances, one night stands and might have
beens Stanford finally settles down with…Anthony? This was hinted at during the tail end of the first
movie. Can you give me the backstory on what occurred in the interceding two years…how did these
two who hated each other end up with a wedding so gay it makes RuPaul look butch? You went
WILLIE GARSON (WG): We went shopping (laughs). No, it was really important to Michael Patrick
King that this was mature; that everyone has grown up in this movie. We’re having mature
relationships and having mature problems and mature fun. That’s why the movie’s funnier. The
issue with Stanford was that it was right in front of him. We’re not kids anymore flitting around New
York. It was a real subtextual thing that Michael was putting into this movie. Like, when it’s time to
grow up, take a look around you and be appreciative and grab onto what you have.
WCT: Which we saw from Mario (Cantone) when he gets choked up saying his vows.
WG: And in my scene with Sarah Jessica (Parker) in the tent before the wedding when we talk about
that it is what it is; you love who you love and we’re in love…done. It’s a very simple emotion.
WCT: Now I’ve read that in real life you and Sarah Jessica are as close as Carrie and Stanford.
WG: Yes, sometimes closer.
WCT: What has the straight Willie learned from the gay Stanford about how to be friends with a
WG: I think what’s attractive about Stanford to people is his purity. He’s a listener, he is supportive;
he’s bitchy but not evil.
WCT: Are you sure it’s not the wardrobe (laughs)?
WG: And for some people it’s definitely the wardrobe that is attractive. I think that is what I’ve
learned from the character – about listening and being open and real and honest. Stanford is the
most honest person ever. There’s nothing hidden about him and I think Carrie really appreciates
that and I think the audience really appreciates that. It’s something we all should strive more – to
be more honest without hurting anyone.
WCT: Did you film a kiss between you two? Because I hated that they cut away – especially because
everyone’s talking about how the gay couple on “Modern Family” doesn’t pucker up, etc.
WG: I think we did have a “you can kiss the bride” moment but I don’t know if that made it into the
cut and then we’re kissing while Liza’s performing and then, what’s not in the movie is our first
dance. What ends up happening with Michael Patrick King’s movies is that his first cuts are probably
19 hours long and they have to be trimmed down. Our real fans would sit through 20 hours.
WCT: Oh c’mon – 50!
WG: (laughs) We try to make it so that it’s palatable for everyone. It’s not “Nicholas Nickelby.”
WCT: So what was the first dance?
WG: We shot it and it was “Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered” sung by the Harlettes. They flew in
from Vegas. They missed a performance with Bette (Midler) and came in and sang for us.
WCT: Put that in the deleted scenes on the DVD Michael, please.
WG: (laughs) Yeah, yeah.
WCT: Okay, let’s get to L-I-Z-A presiding over the gay wedding which would be like Sinatra singing at
a Jersey wedding back in the day.
WCT: How many takes of “Single Ladies?”
WG: It’s a film so it takes forever and also there’s the dancing, the 500 extras, there’s swans.
There was a lot going on so it took a couple of weeks. But she’s such a professional. I could
rehearse for 30 years and not do what she does for 5 seconds (laughs). It’s amazing but she is that
person in every fiber of her being.
WCT: So when Liza comes on the set…
WG: They did say, not, like, “Don’t talk to Liza” but “Be respectful.” It’s like having the Pope in the
room or something (laughs). It’s funny – I read a review that said something like, “Oh, the gay
wedding is so cliché” and what you said is so absolutely true…it’s like Sinatra at the Italian wedding in
New Jersey. Who else would you have? Unless you’re going to get Grace Jones.
WCT: (singing) “Slave to the rhythm…”
WG: Don’t start! Wow. Wow. You went right to that.
WCT: Of course. Now, did you and Mario get to be her chorus boys for a couple of takes?
WG: We danced like maniacs and had a blast.
WCT: You play the gay character so I have to get a little serious. Right now in the community we’re
talking about this gay couple in Malawi that are being sent to prison for 14 years for simply
announcing their engagement.
WG: I don’t know about it but what Michael was doing surreptitiously in this film is that this doesn’t
matter – whoever you love, you love. It doesn’t matter and he writes lines and lines about it. Like,
“It’s not a gay wedding. It doesn’t matter.” If one of the characters on Sex & the City was in love with
a sheep it wouldn’t matter. You just love who you love and it doesn’t matter. We make a joke about
Anthony can only cheat in the states where we’re not legally married because it’s just…silly at this
point. Not just as a society but as humanity’s development. It doesn’t make any sense at this
point. People love who they love in the way that they love them and that’s all that matters. End of
story. That story sickens me. (NOTE: Two days after this interview was conducted on May 27, 2010, the
gay couple was pardoned by Malawi’s President and released – though homosexuality remains illegal in
WCT: You must also have an opinion about the whole Sean Hayes dust up – the whole “he’s openly
gay so he can’t play straight” thing. Here you are, a straight man playing a gay character all these
years. Can you weigh in on this please?
WG: First of all, Sean Hayes absolutely can play straight. He’s doing it very now on Broadway. It’s
absolutely ridiculous. I think these are old mores and it’s going to take a while. It used to be that
there were so many gays in Hollywood that were closeted that it was like they were always acting and
now it’s like it doesn’t matter if anyone’s gay or straight.
WG: Well, in society it doesn’t matter as much. Now it’s that the flamboyant queen is no gayer than
Neil Patrick Harris who plays a womanizer. It doesn’t really matter anymore. Basically, the film
business just has to catch up.
WCT: “Catch up, honey, catch up Louise.”
WG: (laughs) There you go – quoting from Gypsy the musical – good for you.
WCT: Okay, last thing. Before the last movie opened the big real life reveal was Cynthia Nixon
coming out in real life. This time the reveal is you…coming out as an adopted father.
WG: That’s right.
WCT: How are things going with you and Nathen?
WG: Nathen is awesome. I was in a relationship and she didn’t want to have kids and I was like,
“What am I waiting for? I’m relatively young. I’m only in my 70s now (laughs). I have financial
means. This is crazy, why don’t I just do it?” And I just literally put one foot in front of the other one
day at a time and all of a sudden I was a father and it’s fantastic.
WCT: Congratulations but I’m going to leave you with two words of warning: Mommie Dearest.
WG: Exactly. I do strap him in at night (laughs)!