Jonathan Slavin ( photo by Michael Chevas ) plays Phil on ABC's Better Off Ted. This out and proud actor talked to Windy City Times about gay Hollywood.
Windy City Times: Hello, Jonathan. You have had a big television background. How did you get started in television?
Jonathan Slavin: I haven't even thought of that in a really long time. I knew I would escape my tiny town, went to New York and just started. It's the one thing that I thought I could do was be an actor. I did a bunch of theater in New York and did so much drama, like sexually confused youths and suicides. Then at some point an agent told me to go to L.A. When I moved there I literally had no comedic credits on my resume so no one would see me for anything funny. If they needed someone to jump off a building they would bring me in. Now 15 years later they won't see me for a dramatic role.
WCT: It seems like it's working for you.
JS: Yeah, I get around and get to work on some great projects. I like what I am doing now. It's a good show.
WCT: Speaking of the show, tell me about your part on Better Off Ted.Read more story below....
JS: I play a genius scientist who is half of the most bromantic duo on television. I play Phil and then I have this lab partner named Lem. They are socially inept geniuses that are so ridiculously plugged into one another and co-dependant that they almost never separate us. I think it's very funny. Both are really straight characters but we behave as a married couple. We are responsible for the horrific things that are invented on the show.
WCT: It's very funny. What is it like working with Portia de Rossi?
JS: Portia is amazing. She's a generous actor that works hard. She's also a very normal person. We are both gay vegans so have a lot to talk about there. Entertainment Weekly just did a story where the only two gay actors that play straight on television are T.R. Knight and Neil Patrick Harris but we have two on one show!
WCT: Is Ellen DeGeneres always hanging out on set?
JS: Oh, yeah; Ellen's been around. She showed up at a photo shoot to make Portia laugh recently. When we had the premiere party they had it at their house. Ellen's been very supportive. You forget she's Ellen with a capital "E" about two seconds after you start talking to her.
WCT: You have been with your partner, Michael, for almost 15 years now?
JS: Actually, 15 years tomorrow.
WCT: Oh, congratulations! Are you guys going out to celebrate?
JS: Thank you and yes. My favorite restaurant in L.A. is a vegan French bistro way out in the valley. So we are going to go there and have a little romantic dinner. It's a milestone for sure.
WCT: From what I have heard you are actively involved in gay community. Were you involved in Prop 8?
JS: I have done my share of marching. We actually did not get married when that was possible. We were trying to plan it and there was this panic that it would be taken away from us. I told him that I didn't want to do it this way, to put us under a deadline assuming that we are going to lose it in November. I wanted to get married the way that I want to get married. Then of course we lost it and Portia now gives me grief, "Does it bother you that I am married forever and you may never ever be?"
WCT: [ Laughs ] She's evil! Well, I think it will turn around.
JS: It's following the same track as interracial marriage. In 1959, which is in many people's lifetimes, there were people in prison who married outside of their race. Now that seems like an archaic concept. There will be a time where this is not even such an issue.
WCT: You are also big into animal rights.
JS: Yes, I actually had to step out of my house because the neediness of my dogs, cats and pig were overwhelming. I needed to focus on you.
WCT: Do you live on a ranch?
JS: No, I live in a little suburban house full of rescued animals. I do a fair amount with the vegan community because I think the agricultural industry is pretty reprehensible in this countrywell, any country. I do what I can do in terms of rescuing my critters.
WCT: Any other projects coming up besides the TV show?
JS: I actually wrote a film that there is some talk about doing. I wrote it for me and some friends that I think are great. People think it's not very mainstream and it's not. It's for gay people. If it plays at Outfest in San Francisco then I am thrilled. There's enough mainstream content out there. It's not groundbreakingjust a gay story about three losers that live together.
Besides that, I will probably do the AIDS ride again this year. I did it twice before and try to do it while I am on a series so I am in a good position to [ raise funds ] .
WCT: I ran the AIDS marathon in Chicago before.
JS: How was it?
WCT: A whole summer's worth of work.
JS: People don't understand that once you get there, that is the easy part. The week of the ride all you do is eat as much as you can and get on your bike. The training and the fundraising is a huge commitment.
WCT: Anything else that you want to tell people about the show Better Off Ted?
JS: I love the show and the trick is getting people to give it a shot. Everyone that watches it finds something to relate to. Plus I think Jay Harrington is really cute. He was doing a photo shoot where he was changing his shirt and I asked why he doesn't take off his shirt more. We would have so many more gay people watching if he took off his shirt every episode! I have talked to the executive producer to get Jay naked more to boost our gay viewers.
WCT: Well, I will get this is in to a gay newspaper to do my part as well!
To watch episodes, go to www.abc.go.com or check local listings.