Harry Hamlin gets candid about the infamous film that made a negative impact on his film career.
The actor, 70, played a gay writer in Arthur Hiller’s 1982 movie, “Making Love,” where he had an affair with a married man. At the time, same-sex relationships were still taboo in society.
He Was Looking For Something Different
Despite the signs, Hamlin took the part as he was looking for a more “serious” and “meaningful” role at the time.
“I was told by a lot of people, you can’t do that movie,” he told People on the film’s 40th anniversary. “I think it had been offered to pretty much everybody in town and everyone had turned it down because they thought it might be damaging to their careers.”
“I didn’t see it that way. I was looking for something serious and something meaningful, rather than doing a movie about vampire bats invading a small town in the Midwest, which is the type of fare I was being offered at the time,” Hamlin explained.
The Wrong Era
Hamlin played Bart McGuire in “Making Love,” a writer who becomes romantically involved with Zack Elliot, a young doctor (played by Michael Ontkean), who was married to Claire Elliot, a TV exec (played by Kate Jackson).
According to Hamlin, the film “was way ahead of its time.”
He continued, “Even though I was told by my friends not to do it, my agent said I should. He said I was somewhat Teflon because I was out in the press having had a son with Ursula Andress.”
No One Called Him After Doing The Movie
The “Clash of the Titans” star added, “And he said, ‘Everyone knows you’re straight so you’re going to be okay.’ But I didn’t really pay much attention to any of that noise. I thought it was interesting and bold. I was attracted to that.”
To Hamlin, the film’s negative reviews “ended my film career.”
“For years, I’d think was that the reason why I stopped getting calls?” he shared. “And finally realized that was the last time I ever did a movie for a studio.”
He also noted, “I’ve done independent films but never a studio film. I had been doing nothing but studio films and basically going out on all the castings for all the movies. That stopped completely.”
Getting ‘Negative’ Reviews
Hamlin said that the movie “never really got the attention that I think it probably deserves, given the time in which it was released.”
“The movie was panned and my performance was ignored. The reviews were all negative, pretty much,” he recalled.
Hamlin, who is married to “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Lisa Rinna, 58, with whom he has two daughters, Delilah, 23, and Amelia, 20, blamed the “closed system.”
“As far as the film business sort of shutting the door, I think it just had to do with the fact of the studio system being a closed system and once they saw there could be some confusion about my sexuality, then they just said they didn’t want to take the chance,” he said. “If they were contemplating having me be a love interest to a young female star, the thought was, ‘How is the audience going to react?’ Even though I was straight, I think the perception at the time was that anybody who could play gay must be gay.”
He’s ‘Proud’ Of Doing The Film
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Despite the damaging effect to his career, Hamlin still feels proud of the movie.
“Regardless of the effect it had on my film career, I went on to have a great career — and I still do,” he noted. “I’m very proud of having done that movie.”
Still A Successful Actor
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Indeed, he became a big star bagging hit series, such as “L.A. Law,” “Veronica Mars,” and “Mad Men.”
He recently played Tom Brokaw in National Geographic’s “The Hot Zone: Anthrax.”
“I’m interested in working as an actor,” he said. “I happen to think that TV is where its at right now. As long as the part is good, I’ll do it.”