Richard Chamberlain: Nervous in paradise
The former King of the Miniseries on his stay at Wisteria Lane.
Chamberlain (center) still has his eyes on industry prizes and hopes hell get an Emmy nomination and award for his guest-starring role this past season on ABCs Desperate Housewives as Lynettes (Felicity Huffman, left) long-lost stepfather who reunites briefly with her and his ex-wife Stella (Polly Bergen, right). (Craig Sjodin / ABC)
"Working is lovely and not working is lovely," he says.
Yet, Chamberlain still has his eyes on industry prizes and hopes he'll get an Emmy nomination and award for his guest-starring role this past season on ABC's "Desperate Housewives" as Lynette's (Felicity Huffman's) long-lost stepfather who reunites briefly with her and his ex-wife Stella (Polly Bergen). During his visit to Wisteria Lane, he confesses to Lynette that he and Stella broke up because of the fact that he is gay.
Chamberlain, who came out of the closet himself at age 69, became a teen heartthrob in the 1960's as the gallant and noble young doctor on the long-running NBC series "Dr. Kildare." Working extensively in England in the 1970s, he appeared in such movies as "The Music Lovers," "The Slipper and the Rose" and "The Three Musketeers" and "The Four Musketeers." During the 1980s, he became the King of the Miniseries genre, starring in such blockbusters as "Shogun" and "The Thorn Birds."
Besides his appearance on 'Desperate Housewives," Chamberlain has guest starred on "Will & Grace," "Nip/Tuck" and "Hustle" and was featured in last year's hit feature comedy, "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry."
I find it hard to believe that you have never won an Emmy.
No, I've been nominated so many times. I am hoping I get this one, which would be wonderful. First of all, it's the most beautiful statue of all of them, and I would like to have it sitting around some place. I would love to have one.
You had worked with Polly Bergen years before "Desperate Housewives?"
Yes, she did a ["Dr. Kildare" episode].
Was she your love interest?
She was in part! She played twins. Of course, there was a good twin and the evil twin. And I probably got them all mixed up. Polly reminded me as the evil twin she tried to seduce me on a beach somewhere, but given Dr. Kildare's extraordinary character, he probably didn't succumb. He didn't drop his [doctor's ] jacket much less his pants.
Your character was so sweet on the series.
He is a really good guy. It was fun playing him because he was a really good guy.
Would you have played a gay role before you came out?
Of course. No problem. I played Tchaikovsky [in 'The Music Lovers'] and he was gay. That was OK. It was coming out and saying, 'I'm gay,' that was verboten. You had to keep your mouth shut.
What is it like for an actor doing a guest shot on a TV series?
It's wonderful. I love doing this. I have done "Will & Grace" and others. It's really, really fun because you enter this family -- this existing family -- and usually they all get on really well. That's the way it was with "Desperate Housewives." Mainly, it was Felicity [Huffman] and Polly and me, all of our scenes were together. I didn't interact with the other wives unfortunately. But I loved Felicity, I can't tell you how I loved it. We became bosom buddies on the show.
Well you two worked so well together. You really felt there was a strong, loving past between you.