An Interview with Cheeks, Sean Hemeon and Alessandra Torresani of ‘Husbands’

On Monday, we got a look at the upcoming web series Husbands from the fabulous writer Jane Espenson and director Jeff Greenstein.  I’m so excited about this husbands_publicityphoto_081211series, and I was lucky enough to get a bit of info from the incredible actors!

Recently, I got to chat with stars Sean Hemeon, Cheeks and Caprica’s Alessandra Torresani. Check out what they have to say!  By the way, you can also check out their website and follow them all on Twitter by clicking the links on their names!

Hemeon started out by talking about the timeliness of this series about gay marriage. “I first…want to say right away that everyone I talk to about it says the same thing and that is, ‘Oh yeah, of course there should be a show like that.’ So generally, most can feel that it’s time.

“Secondly, and the disclaimer here is that the show’s intent is not solely to change the minds of the world, more specifically the heartland (however, one can hope that this is a beautiful by-product). But I will say, despite all the marches, petitions, rallies, etc., what really matters and gets into the homes of many Americans, again the Heartland, is TV.

“The show is ridiculously funny, as folks are falling over in laughter, they will not realize that the boundaries of society are expanding. Yes, two men can love each other and function and live just like anyone else.”

Cheeks weighed in on the story.  “Husbands is both a timely and timeless story. For me, it’s certainly a reaction to issues like Prop 8, DADT, gay bullying, and marriage equality. Jane and I actually had the script in development when New York passed their law. Husbands is, without a doubt, a very modern piece, reflective of the current social climate.  At the same time, Cheeks and Brady are classic story archetypes. Cheeks is Dharma. Brady is Greg. Felix and Oscar. Laverne and Shirley. Lucy and Ricky. Two people who are completely different on the surface, but fundamentally the same, and very much drawn to one another.”

cheeks_081711CheeksHemeon gave us a look at his character, Brady.  “Brady absolutely sees himself as an example for Gay people everywhere. As a pro baseball player, he feels that he has a responsibility to always put the right foot forward and dispel what the ‘other side’ thinks that a gay man is — a debaucherous lifestyle unfit for family — unhealthy and not ‘normal.’ So when Cheeks and Brady get drunk married, to Brady, this just proves what the ‘other side’ thinks. And, of course, the irony is that if they were a straight couple, people would just laugh it off. So it’s really important to Brady to keep the image going. However, what provides a lot of the humor is exactly what you were talking about with the feminist movement woman… what’s the cost? I feel like Brady, being the All-American he is and having Mormon brothers, really had his husband and family life planned out for him (probably literally the white picket fence even) and Cheeks was not that. He cares for Cheeks, probably even loves him, but this wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. Not like this. So as the episode continues, Brady is freaking out more and more because of how out of control everything is for him. And he is so used to control and composure and he can handle anything but this… this he has no idea. I mean, he only came out a year ago.”  [laughs]

Cheeks gave us a look at “Cheeks” and his relationship to Brady.  “Cheeks is a Hollywood wild child, prominent on the party scene and gossip mags. He’s established his career and his fan base as someone who rejects societal norms, representing outsiders. Growing up, he didn’t really have the luxury of being like everyone else. He wore his mom’s heels, chose theatre over sports, and so on. There was never any hiding his expressive femininity, so he chose to own it. As a result, he only feels comfortable when he’s pushing the envelope.

“Brady, on the other hand, grew up with ‘straight privileges.’ No one suspected he was gay, and he was therefore able to hide his sexuality for years. Being part of the Boy’s Club was something he didn’t have to (or want to) give up. Why would he? Following the more conventional path, he wound up as a major league baseball player — which didn’t necessarily support the whole being gay thing. Eventually, as society became more accepting of the gay community, he felt he could emerge safely. In Husbands, he has only been out of the closet for a year.

“Whereas Cheeks thrives on being different, Brady still desperately wants to be just like everyone else. Cheeks waves the flag of ‘We’re here, we’re fabulous!’ and seanhemeon_081711Sean HemeonBrady represents that idea that ‘gays are no different than you and me.’”

Torresani explained how her character, Haley, fits into the mix.  “I am Cheeks’ best friend, who you assume has been his best friend for years and years and years… she is so co-dependent on Cheeks.  She needs his validation for every aspect of her life.  She doesn’t want to leave the house unless he thinks she looks perfect… so the fact that he gets married without her knowing is like the biggest slap in the face, and she’s being replaced, but this is her best friend.  So it’s kind of a fight for, okay, I’m going to try to like Brady, but in the end, he stole my best friend, so fuck you.”  [laughs]

We sci-fi fans all know Torresani from her role in Caprica, a show I am personally still in mourning for. Caprica wasn’t exactly a light-hearted comedy.  Torresani said, “It’s funny, I feel I’m personally better at comedy, but I always do these heavy, dramatic, sappy-ass, hardcore roles.  Female empowerment roles.  And I just kind of wanted to do something light and silly, which is more my personality.”

So where does the story start?  Cheeks said, “When the story begins, they’ve dated for a few weeks, but find themselves accidentally married after a drunken weekend in Vegas. Brady insists they must stay together and become the poster couple for gay marriage: the cause. Consciously, Brady believes he is doing it for the cause. Secretly though, I think he’s more concerned about saving face.  Conservatives and the gay community alike are upset with their quickie Vegas wedding and the only way to redeem themselves, in Brady’s mind, is to make their marriage look ‘happy, normal, and planned.’ For the sake of the greater good? No, to keep his life as scandal-free as possible — coming out was quite enough!

“This could seem vain, shallow, or self-absorbed on Brady’s part, but I would disagree with that.  To me, this secret unconscious motivation is what makes Brady a relatable character. Not everyone can relate to living for a cause, but humanity universally understands fearing the judgment of others, the desire to belong, and doing whatever it takes to stay in the good graces of peers. If, in the process of avoiding public criticism, Brady changes the world for the better, well, great!

alessandra-torresani_081711Alessandra TorresaniIn Husbands, Cheeks agrees to stay married because he really likes Brady — maybe even loves him — but Cheeks has a secret too. Deep down, he would love to be just a little bit more ‘normal.’  Brady provides a bit of necessary vanilla in Cheeks’ reality. Cheeks has spent his whole life being different, ever upping the ante of the unexpected, the outrageous. Sometimes, he longs to spend a quiet evening at home by the fireplace, instead of slapping on his false eyelashes and hitting the scene. Of course, he’ll never admit that, not even to himself. Brady and Cheeks, like all people, are incapable of being completely honest with themselves about their actions in the moment.

“What Cheeks provides for Brady is a vicarious experience of full self-expression and a total disregard for what anyone else thinks. Brady looks on in awe as Cheeks strolls down the street in daisy dukes and cowboy boots, never once paying any mind to gawkers. Brady is baffled, excited, uncomfortable, and envious all at once.

“Thus, their attraction to one another is intense and deeply rooted. Of course, in the show this is all conveyed with rapid-fire wit and fantastic fun. It’s so totes not this serious. Like, ferrealzies.”

Finally, Cheeks had this to say, “At its core, Husbands is a comedy about two people who appear very different, both from each other and from the rest of society. They’re rich, gay, and famous. What unfolds, however, are the hopes, fears, struggles, and love they have in common — with each other and with all mankind.”

Husbands will premiere on September 13, 2011.

Speaking of gayness, here’s why we love George Takei!


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