Archive for the ‘Sean Maher’ Category

Official Pix, Sci Fi Expo

6 December 2011 Leave a comment

Who: Official Pix

What: A two day conventions for fans of sci-fi and comics, with special guests, photo opps, mechandise and more.

Where: Irving Convention Centre, 500 W Los Colinas BLvd Irving, Texas

When: 11-12 February 2012
How: Online Booking

Price: General Admission: $15.00 (Kids 5-12 – $5.00) | Priority Pass: $40.00 | VIP Pass: $60.00

Whedonverse Guests:

Eliza Dushku

Adam Baldwin

Jewel Staite

Sean Maher

Ron Glass

Much Ado About Sean Maher from Edge on the Net

13 November 2011 Leave a comment

Much Ado about Sean Maher

by Jim Halterman
EDGE Contributor
Monday Nov 7, 2011
While actor Sean Maher has appeared in high profile projects like Joss Whedon’s cult fave “Firefly” series (and the “Serenity” feature film spin-off) as well as the just-cancelled “Playboy Club” series (where he played a closeted gay character), he made headlines recently for publicly coming out as a gay man for the first time in his career.

Unfortunately, that good news was clouded a bit when shortly after his coming out NBC abruptly cancelled the drama, based on Hugh Hefner’s popular nightclubs in the 1960s, due to low ratings after just three episodes had aired.

After bumping into the always cheery Maher at a recent GLSEN event in Beverly Hills, EDGE’s Jim Halterman jumped on the phone last week with him to reflect on the rollercoaster ride he’s endured over the past few months, why he thinks “The Playboy Club” didn’t last, as well as details on the just-announced Whedon project that currently has Hollywood abuzz and features Maher in a villainous role.

100% out

EDGE: It was great seeing you at the GLSEN event but it made me wonder if it was a different experience for you being at an event like that now that you’re 100% out?

Sean Maher: Yeah, it was very freeing and it was very liberating. I think it also just kind of reaffirmed for me how proud I was of the decision I had made. It felt great to sit there at the event and hold Paul’s hand and not have to worry ’Is anybody looking for me?’ Actually, it was the first event that we had gone to together so it was very freeing in many ways.

EDGE: How long have you and Paul been together?

Sean Maher: It’s going to be nine years!

EDGE: That’s a long time in gay years!

Sean Maher: You know what’s funny is when we first started the adoption process, we were less than five years and our lawyer said, ’I gotta let you know that you’re not really considered a long-term relationship yet.’ We were like, ’What are you talking about?’ And he said, ’You’re considered a long term relationship when you’ve reached five years.’ We were like, ’But we’re gay! We’re in gay years relationship!’ It’s just interesting.

Playing a sexy villain

EDGE: The news just broke about Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and your part as Don John. I know you’ve worked with Joss before but how did this come about?

Sean Maher: He just simply emailed me. I was in Chicago at the time working on “The Playboy Club” and I came back to the hotel and I got an email from Joss and he said ’I’m pulling together this small, indie film adaptation of ’Much Ado About Nothing.’ Trying to put together a cast. I’m looking for a sexy villain. What sayeth you?’

I said yeah. It was a no brainer for me. As terrified as I was and I really was terrified because I had never done Shakespeare and I think when it’s Joss you want to make him proud. I love him so much so I always want to be the best that it can be so I did feel a lot of pressure to dive headfirst into a play that I wasn’t 100% sure I knew the ins and outs of, but once we started rehearsing and started getting around the dialogue and the characters and the dynamics and the relation that he had and then it didn’t feel like work at all.

It went from being one of the most challenging, terrifying experiences to not feeling like work and in the end incredibly exhilarating and magical. I kept saying to him, ’I’m so happy I’m doing this! This is just so much fun!’ His wife had said she hadn’t seen him this happy in a long time. We were all there, we weren’t getting paid much money at all and we came together because we love Joss and obviously love the idea of this project and everybody cleared their schedules for him. Everyone came together and everyone was just dedicated 100% heart and soul. It really was a very special thing to be a part of.

EDGE: You shot the whole thing in 12 days but was that a plus or a minus?

Sean Maher: That’s the thing. I think because it was such a short period of time there really was not a lot of wiggle room for error on the actors’ part so we needed to come to work and know our words like the back of our hand and knowing everything in terms of the dynamics between the characters and coming to work and just being ready to go.

Realistic & intimate

EDGE: When I go to the “Much Ado About Nothing” website, the picture is a guy in a lake in scuba gear and a martini glass which makes me think this isn’t a traditional telling. Is that the case?

Sean Maher: I’m actually in that picture underwater getting ready to come up because I’m in that scene. So I’m holding my breath underwater.

That’s obviously a still from the scene so it is a little bit of, obviously, Joss’s twist on it. He didn’t change any of the text but we shot the whole thing in black and white and he wanted to draw it in from being anything too theatrical. He didn’t want big Shakespeare. He wanted us to make it as realistic and as intimate as possible and use the dialogue and it really takes each actor knowing exactly what they’re saying with every word and every line and every paragraph, which is hard to do and to do Shakespeare right where the audience understands what’s happening is difficult.

’Playboy Club’s’ failure?

EDGE: I had the chance to also talk to Chad Hodge [creator of “The Playboy Club”] at the GLSEN event about the show having such a short life. What are your thoughts on why the show didn’t really get a chance by the network?

Sean Maher: I’m not even sure. I’ve seen so many theories in my day and gone through so many cancellations so a part of me stopped trying to figure it out what happened. It really was something special we were doing. I think…and I’m not an expert on the market…but I don’t think the time slot was working in our favor and I do think people had the wrong perception of what the show was about. If I had a quarter for every person who told me, ’I love the show! I had no idea there was singing in it!’ I probably could fund the next few episodes.

It was amazing that nobody knew what was going on in the club. It wasn’t just sex and girls in bunny outfits. I thought Laura [Benanti, who played mother-bunny Carol-Lynne] kicked ass on this show! She worked her ass off every single episode and I think everybody was drawn to this Tony-award winning actress who is just electrifying and magnificent and nobody knew there was singing in the show! I think the small things like that where there was such a misconception of what the show was about absolutely hurt it.

And, you know, you never know what could’ve happened if we had been given a chance to survive another week or another few weeks. I think it was such a big show and it was expensive so they decided to pull it sooner rather than later.

Moving on…

EDGE: You and your on-screen wife Leah Renee (who played Alice, a closeted lesbian married to Maher’s character] obviously forged a good friendship during the short time you worked together.

Sean Maher: We finished the sixth episode, I came back to LA, the show got cancelled the day I started rehearsing Joss’s movie and I never got to say goodbye to anyone. Like say goodbye to the set, the crew…and I was dying to see Leah so it was so nice to see her [at the GLSEN event] and have some closure. She’s someone I will now have in my life because we did have such a strong connection.

It’s sad, especially when they were writing such great stuff for her and I. We just connected in such a lovely way and I think the writers were responding to that and they were writing some really, really amazing stuff for she and I. It’s a shame.

EDGE: “Much Ado About Nothing” is going to hit the festival circuit in the Spring. What else is going on?

Sean Maher: I don’t’ know! I’m waiting to hear on one other project and I should know more this week and if that doesn’t work on, then I just enjoy some downtime, enjoy the kids for awhile and get back into the rat race.

To check out the Much Ado website, visit the “Much Ado About Nothing” website. You can follow Sean Maher on Twitter @Sean_M_Maher.

Original Interview at Edge of the Net

Sean Maher Talks ‘Nothing’ With The Insider

31 October 2011 Leave a comment


By Jarett Wieselman

October 24, 2011

To say the internet exploded with the news that Buffy, Firefly, Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon had taken 12 days out from filming The Avengers to bring together some of his most beloved actors and shoot a modern day retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing would be an understatement. In fact, I’m amazed you’re able to read this story right now given the collective insanity that swept the WWW after someone hit send on the soundly applauded press release.

In short, Joss gathered up Firefly stars Nathan Fillion and Sean Maher, paired them with Buffy alums Alexis Denisof and Tom Lenk, who then worked with Angel’s Amy Acker and Dollhouse’s Reed Diamond and Fran Kranz to bring to life Shakespeare’s “deconstruction of the idea of love.” At least that’s how Joss describes it.

To get a greater sense of what fans can expect from the indie, I rang up Sean Maher to chat about Nothing.

Insider: First, can you take me back how Joss asked you to participate?
Sean Maher: I got an email late one night in Chicago while I was working on The Playboy Club. It was like three in the morning and it said: “Hey, I’m putting together a cast for an independent film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing – here’s the deal, it’s low budget guerrilla film-making and we need a sexy villain. Can you come be Don John for me? What sayeth you?” That was it. And I wrote back, “Joss, does this mean you think I’m sexy?” [laughs] I would do anything for him. It was pretty much a no-brainer. Plus, I’ve never played the villain before!

Insider: And Don John is a ladies man, right?
Sean: Yea! It’s so funny because I had talked to Joss about my choice to come out – he was so supportive. He just wanted me for this because he saw me in this role of a villain. A very mean-spirited, mischievous, manipulative villain. What Joss did was write don John’s associate, who is a man in the play, as a woman – and we have some very promiscuous sexually-charged scenes together. So during this whole coming out process, with all the press asking me if I could ever be seen as a heterosexual man on screen again, I so badly wanted to say, “well, Joss Whedon just cast me as the guy in between Riki Lindhome’s legs.” But he asked me to keep it a secret, which I did. I mean, it’s Joss Whedon. But I have to say, I had such a good time being a dick – I’ve never played a dick before and Joss kept telling me, “you’re such a good dick!” [laughs]

Insider: How did you guys keep it a secret for so long?
Sean: He simply asked us not to talk about it and because we’re all so loyal to him, we’d never betray his trust. But Nathan and I hadn’t seen each other in forever so we were snapping away and Joss would see us taking pictures and shout, “don’t you Tweet that!”

Insider: The last time Joss and Nathan worked together was in Dr. Horrible — are there any songs in Much Ado?
Sean: There are. I will just say that. There’s original music, so this was a long time coming for Joss.

Insider: He has talked about his need for a small movie after the craziness of Avengers — what can people expect from this Much Ado?
Sean: Obviously people are excited to see anything Joss does but this intertwining of all these Whedon-verse actors is amazing. Everyone – from the cast to the crew – was handpicked to create this vision he had. It’s such a different take on so many levels, that comments on a different interpretation of the text. He’s just a genius and put so much of himself into it. His wife Kai told me that she hadn’t seen Joss this happy in a long time – it was something he needed to feed his soul, and that’s why I think it’s going to be magical.

For more on Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, click here!

Original Interview at The Insider

Sean Maher Reveals Much Ado About Nothing Secrets to THR

31 October 2011 Leave a comment

Joss Whedon’s Star Sean Maher Reveals ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ Secrets

10/24/2011 by Kimberly Nordyke

The actor tells THR that the writer-director made jokes about the cast and crew staying off Twitter during the 12-day shoot, which took place entirely at Whedon’s house.

The media are still scratching their heads over how Joss Whedon managed to keep his latest project, a contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, entirely under wraps until it wrapped filming.

Amazingly, no one involved in the project leaked word — at Whedon’s request — until late Sunday, when stars Nathan Fillion and Sean Maher along with costume designer Shawna Trpcic tweeted out a link to a website announcing the project.

The site provided scant details until a press release was issued Monday, confirming the movie was a modern take on Much Ado About Nothing and features a slew of frequent Whedon collaborators. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof star as Beatrice and Benedick, while the supporting cast includes Fillion as Dogberry, Clark Gregg as Leonato, Fran Kranz as Claudio, Sean Maher as Don John, Tom Lenk as Verges and Reed Diamond as Don Pedro.

So how did Whedon manage to keep the large cast — as well as the crew — quiet?

For starters, Maher told The Hollywood Reporter, Whedon made sure to ask everyone to keep it on the down-low before shooting even began. Maher was asked to be a part of the movie about a month ago.

“I had just come out publicly and was doing a lot of press for [his now-canceled series The Playboy Club] at the time, and I knew I was going to be rehearsing for Joss’ film,” Maher said. “So I specifically asked Joss if I could talk about the movie, and he asked me not to: He had a bigger strategy in mind.”

That strategy clearly included the late-Sunday tweets and reveal of the website, which featured a single photo of a man in what appears to be a lake wearing scuba gear and holding a martini glass positioned under a cast list. The site read, “Bellwether Pictures is proud to announce the completion of principal photography” and said the project is “a film by Joss Whedon based on a play.”

On Monday, a press release added more details about the project, including that it’s the first feature film from Bellwether, a “micro-studio” created by Whedon and Kai Cole for the “production of small, independent narratives for all media, embracing a DIY ethos and newer technologies for, in this particular case, a somewhat older story.”

Meanwhile, the film’s secrecy also was helped thanks to the fact that Maher and the rest of the cast and crew are frequent Whedon collaborators.

“Everybody on the set loved him so much and wanted to be there, so nobody leaked or talked,” he said. “Everyone on this project has the utmost loyalty to him.”

Whedon even cracked jokes whenever he saw one of the cast or crewmembers on their mobile phone: “He’d remind us, ‘Don’t you dare tweet that,'” Maher said.

Whedon didn’t offer his reasoning behind the secrecy, saying only: “Trust me, I have a bigger strategy at hand.”

Meanwhile, the entire shoot took place over only 12 days, with Whedon filming anywhere between 12-15 pages a day.

“Because we were doing it in such a short period of time, you had to be 100% prepared,” said Maher, who plays the villain Don John.

Maher said the entire filming process took place in Whedon’s own home in Santa Monica.

“His house is magnificent — not ostentatious in any way, shape or form,” he added. “It’s one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever been in. And the entire action takes place in Leonato’s [Clark Gregg] estate, so it was perfect for that.”

Maher also confirmed what was hinted at in Monday’s press release: That the film was shot on a tight budget. In fact, the cast wore their own clothes — with the help of the costume designer — and came to the set hair- and makeup-ready.

“We all got paid — we didn’t get paid very much — but that goes toward the point of, none of us was there for the money,” Maher said. “We were there because we wanted to be.”

As for the decision to shoot the movie in black and white, Maher said the film has a “very noir” and “stylized” feel to it. He said Whedon — who plans to take the film on the festival circuit — also stayed true to Shakespeare’s dialogue while putting his own touches on the production.

Whedon “sort of tried to rein it in from not being theatrical,” Maher added. “He wanted to make it as intimate and realistic as possible.”

In his press release Monday, Whedon said: “The text is to me a deconstruction of the idea of love, which is ironic, since the entire production is a love letter — to the text, to the cast, even to the house it’s shot in.”

For his part, Maher said he was initially nervous about taking part since he’d never done Shakespeare before, though he did jump at the chance to work with Whedon again after starring in his TV series Firefly and its big-screen follow-up, Serenity. He also relished the chance to play a villain for the first time in his career.

“It was so fun; I got to be deliciously mean and manipulative,” he said. “I’m so grateful that Joss thought of me for this; it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done.”

Original Interview at The Hollywood Reporter

Joss Whedon Talks Much Ado About Nothing with EW

31 October 2011 Leave a comment

Joss Whedon on his secret film of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’: ‘This is the best vacation I’ve ever taken — EXCLUSIVE

by Adam B. Vary

After wrapping production on Marvel Studios’ gargantuan summer tent-pole The Avengers, writer-director Joss Whedon was supposed to go on a monthlong vacation with his wife, Kai Cole. Instead, Whedon tells EW exclusively that his wife suggested he finally make the feature film version of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing he’d been ruminating over for years.

And so he did — adapting the script, casting the film with Whedonverse alums like Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker (Angel), Alexis Denisof (BuffyAngel), and Sean Maher (Firefly), and shooting the self-funded, black-and-white indie in secret over 12 days at his Santa Monica, Calif., home. (Production wrapped on Sunday, and Whedon says it will be ready for spring 2012 film festivals.) How did Whedon pull all this off? What was it about this particular Shakespeare comedy that drew him in? And what did stars Sean Maher — who plays the fiendish villain Don John — and Amy Acker — who co-stars with Denisof as the sarcastic, talky couple at the center of the play — make of all of this ado about Much Ado? Check out EW’s exclusive Q&As with Whedon, Maher, and Acker below, as well as exclusive shots of Maher, Denisof and Acker from the film:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This announcement took people by surprise to say the least. How did this all come together?
JOSS WHEDON: Well, it’s not a bit secret that I’ve done these [Shakespeare] readings before, and I always had a vague notion of shooting Much Ado. But I didn’t really have a take on it. And then, for some reason, I kinda sorta did. As we were finishing The Avengers in New York, my wife and I were planning our vacation for our 20th anniversary. And she said, “Let’s not take the vacation. Make a movie instead.” I was like, “I’m not even sure if I can adapt the script, cast the movie, and prep it in a month.” And she was like, “Well, that’s your vacation time, so you do it.” And so I did.

So how did you get the ability to bend time and space to your will to be able to pull this off? It’s not like you don’t have a bunch of other things going on.
[Chuckles] You know, I am busy. But you know, if you want something done, ask the busy man; nobody else has time. There is an element of “I have a serious problem” — that’s one thing. And then there’s an element of this is the best vacation I’ve ever taken. I mean, yes, it was super hard, it was a ton of work, and there were moments where I went, “What’s wrong with me? What am I thinking about? I need to rest!” But I’ve never been so well rested and so well fed as I have on this movie. You know, you make the time, because no one’s going to make it for you. There’s never going to be a good time to do it. You make the time and you make it work if you really, really want it. And I really did.

You shot this at your home, I understand?
Yes. One of the advantages of Much Ado is it all takes place on Leonato’s estate. It’s all one location. I don’t have an estate. I have a nice house.

Like Dr. Horrible, did you bankroll this yourself?
I did. My wife and I started a micro studio, Bellwether Pictures, in order to do things like this, creator-controlled small fare.

What is it about Shakespeare that you love so much, especially this play? My understanding is one of the strange things about Much Ado is it’s one of his few plays that’s predominantly in prose, and not poetry.
I didn’t even notice that until Alexis pointed it out. But that actually proved useful for is. It wasn’t why I chose it, but I do think it’s one of the reasons why I love it. It’s very modern. The language, the jokes, and the attitudes translate really, really easily. [The actors] do say the words as they’re written [in the play], but they connect to a modern audience in a way that portions of the other comedies don’t necessarily.

Was this one of the plays you’d done readings of at your home?
Yeah, we’d done a reading of it starring Amy and Alexis years ago, and that’s when I knew that if I could ever do it, I would do it with them.

You said earlier that you hadn’t had a take on it until you were in the middle of shooting Avengers. What is your take on this? What did you end up wanting to do with this film?
I had trouble at first, because it had the words “About Nothing” in the title. So I was like, “I don’t have anything to say about nothing.” But really when I started pouring over it, I got a very strong sense of how a little bit dark and twisted it is. The movie’s in black-and-white partially because it’s kind of a noir comedy. I realized that everybody in it behaves like such a dolt — an articulate dolt, but a dolt. I fixated on this notion that our ideas of romantic love are created for us by the society around us, and then escape from that is grown-up love, is marriage, is mature love, to escape the ideals of love that we’re supposed to follow. So that clicked for me when I realized, oh, I get why it matters everybody goes through the weird machinations we go through.

Have there been any nibbles of interest in distribution today?
I haven’t heard anything yet. I’ve just been enjoying the Internet response. We’re feeling our way on this one, just like Dr. Horrible. I do mean it to be in theaters. But we haven’t gotten any real plan except [going to] film festivals because it sounded like it would be festive.

Finally, how did you keep this a secret? A lot of your cast are Twitter addicts, especially Nathan, and you’re not Mr. Low Profile right now.
Well, I asked the cast specifically and everybody involved not to say anything until we wrapped. And, you know, it all happened very, very fast. That’s how you know. When it’s something that fast, you actually have a shot. When something’s rolling around for three years, it’s harder. This film was a month from inception to production, and then 12 days to shoot. Even Nathan did not tweet for that long.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How’d you guys keep this film a secret?
SEAN MAHER: I think everyone was on board, just waiting for him to give us the go, so we could talk about it. After your article came out [about me coming out of the closet], I was doing tons of press, so I had asked him specifically if I could talk about the movie, and he said, Not yet. I would never in a million years betray his trust like that, and I think that everybody felt the same. It was such a magical experience because everybody that was there just wanted to be there, you know, with every part of their soul and heart. It was really a wonderful experience, and I don’t think anybody would have leaked it anywhere.

It’s totally fun that you guys keep this stuff secret.
Nathan and I hadn’t seen each other in forever, so we’re taking pictures left and right on our phones. And Tom Lenk and I haven’t worked together in awhile either. Last time I was at Joss’ house, [Buffy scribe] Jane Espenson had taken a Golden Girls episode and made it The Golden Boys. Tom did that, and I came and did that for Jane. That was the last time I was at Joss’ house, so Tom and I and Nathan and I are all taking our pictures on our phones. Joss was like, “Don’t you dare tweet that! Not yet!”

Tell me, how did this come together? How did Joss pitch this to you? How did he convince you to do it?
I was in Chicago at the time. It was like 2 or 2:30 in the morning, and I was arriving back to my hotel from work. I had an email from Joss, telling me that he was putting together a cast for Much Ado About Nothing, and he wanted me to come play Don John. He said, “I need a sexy villain, what sayeth you?” I initially was terrified because I’ve never done Shakespeare, and Shakespeare with Joss — I always want to do right by him because I love him so much. So I told him, I’m absolutely on board, let me just make sure I can clear the dates. I spoke to my manager, he called Playboy Club. Ironically, we got some time off from Playboy Club, and the day I started rehearsal on Much Ado About Nothing, the show got canceled. It was a little bittersweet, but look, anything that Joss would ask me to come do, I’m pretty confident I would do. It was a no-brainer on my part. It still was scary for me. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, but yet, it didn’t feel like work.

What about it was so challenging?
That it was Shakespeare! Shakespeare, to do it right, is not easy at all. I think in this instance, because we were shooting it in such a short period of time, we all had to come to work completely prepared, know all of our words, know the ins and outs of the play. There wasn’t a lot of time for multiple takes. There wasn’t a lot of time for many set-ups, in terms of camera angles. He was sort of getting in there and filming a live performance, which was exhilarating and scary at the same time. I mean, it was incredibly challenging, yet it didn’t feel like work, as well.

Well, and you were with the Whedon alums — what a great group to work with, right?
Some of them I hadn’t met at all. And obviously, others I was overjoyed to be able to spend some time with again, like Amy Acker and Nathan — our lives get so busy that we hardly get to see each other. It’s just such a gift to get to come together and work on something we love for him. Then, of course, there’s the handful of actors I knew had worked with Joss, but I had never worked with before.

Is playing a villain a new thing for you?
Completely new. And I said that to Joss! Last night, we were wrapping up my last scene. I was just having so much fun playing this role. He’s just deliciously mean, trying to thwart his brother’s happiness and foil the wedding in the play. We had finished a take, and I walked off and I was sort of sitting there smirking with Joss, and he’s like, “You’re such a dick.” It’s so much fun to be a dick because I’ve never been a dick! He’s like, “Are you kidding me? You do dick well.” I was like, “No, it’s the first time.” He’s smart, he’s not just mean. He’s setting up all of these misunderstandings and planting all of these seeds of deception, and he’s just so mischievous, but in such a calculated, intelligent way. That was really, really fun to play.

How is this updated? What’s the vibe like of the movie?
It does feel contemporary. The direction we were getting from Joss was to make it was real, especially with the language, not to be big and Shakespearian, but to bring it in and be intimate and bring it as close to a realistic way of speaking as we could. And Joss’ house is just magnificent. Not ostentatious by any means, but just a maze of halls and so many different bedrooms and this pool that overlooks the Santa Monica mountains. It’s gorgeous, just the most perfect setting. Everybody who was there, so desperately wanted to be there and you felt that. It really felt like we were doing something great. So I’m excited.

Interview by Tanner Stransky

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Joss told me he had done a reading of the play with you and Alexis. Do you remember when that was?
AMY ACKER: I feel like it was maybe three years ago? Somewhere around that time.

And he’s been doing these for a while?
Yeah, since even before I met him. When I came on to Angel, which was a long time ago, he had already been doing them for awhile. For several years we would do, like, them every month, and then we’ll go three years and not do one. Then he would bring everybody back and kind of get on a roll with it again. There’s usually a group of people whose always there, and then he picks up new people each time.

When did you get the call that he’d be doing Much Ado About Nothing as a film?
I think it was about three weeks before we started. Maybe two-and-a-half. I know when Clark Gregg decided that he was going to do it, there had been some other people who were maybe going to play that part, and then they had conflicts that came up, so he kind of came in and saved the day at the end. He was like, “Well I only had four days to learn all of the lines,” and I was like, “Yeah, we all found out last week, so don’t feel too bad.” [Laughs]

Do you know who was going to be playing Leonato before Clark?
Anthony Head.

What went through your head when you got the call. That was the end of September?
Yeah, right towards the end of September. I mean, first of all I was like, “Sure, that sounds awesome!” Alexis and I met with Joss maybe one or two times right after we decided that we were doing it, and then we rehearsed kind of the week before. But when we showed up the first day, I was like, “Oh, this is a real movie!” We didn’t quite know what it was going to be, and seeing all of the trucks and the lights and everything, everyone was kind of like, “Oh, we really are doing a movie!”

How did Joss explain keeping this a secret?
Well, he basically just said, “We’re not going to tell anyone until we finish.” Luckily since everyone was scrambling to learn their lines and figure out what the heck they were doing, no one really had time. I think it was mostly making sure Nathan didn’t tweet about it. That’s how all news in the world seems to spread. [Laughs]

What were those 12 days like? Anything really stick out?
Oh geez, the whole thing was really awesome. I mean, it was all my favorite people, so we were all just hanging out in their amazing house, and we just kind of had to keep reminding ourselves that, “Oh wait, we’re actually working!” It just kind of felt like a big 12-day party.

What was the look of the film? How did it all look?
The costume designer went shopping in all of our closets, and she just sort of chose. We are all wearing our own clothes, and then she kind of added little pieces here and there.

Did you conclude filming yesterday? The website is already up…
Yeah. I think they had [the site] ready on Saturday, when we were shooting. From what it looks like, I wasn’t actually filming at the end of the day yesterday, so I wasn’t there, but it seems like they must have posted it the second they wrapped the film.

Why do you think Joss did this film, and did it so quickly?
I thought it was just because he was super cool. I think his wife and him were going to Italy for a vacation, and then she was kind of like, “Why don’t you just shoot that movie you’ve been wanting to do instead?” So, that’s sort of why it happened now. She’s kind of just really amazing. She built the house that it shot in. You know, she just kind of makes stuff happen. If Kai says something, then she like, actually does it every time.

Wait, Kai designed the house?
Yeah, she’s an architect. She built it and designed it and decorated it and everything. Pretty much you could just film the house without all of us talking in it, and it would be a really great movie.

What kind of style?
I’m not sure if it’s from France or Italy, but everything is old and warm and it’s just the most welcoming place ever.

(Shaunna Murphy contributed to this report)

Follow Adam on Twitter @adambvary

Original Interview at Entertainment Weekly

Sean Maher Tells Redeye He is Happier Than Ever

10 October 2011 Leave a comment

Out in every way, Sean Maher is happier than ever

By Curt Wagner RedEye
October 2, 2011

Sean Maher’s role in “The Playboy Club” seems to have been tailor-made as a platform from which he could come out publicly as gay.

Not only is his character also named Sean, but he’s a closeted gay man married to a lesbian bunny who helps organize an underground gay rights group.

In “A Matter of Simple Duplicity” (9 p.m. Oct. 3 on NBC), Sean, working as campaign manager for state’s attorney candidate Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian), suggests that Nick hide his affiliation with the Playboy Club and his relationship with Bunny Mother Carol-Lynn in order to gain votes. He fixes Nick up with socialite Frances Dunhill (Cassidy Freeman), who has a secret of her own.

“I think it’s interesting that Sean is trying to hide all these aspects of Nick’s life,” Maher told me. “He’s making a living out of hiding [other people’s secrets], which is what he does personally.”

During lunch Wednesday at Markethouse restaurant, Maher repeated what his character said to Nick in last week’s episode: “It doesn’t matter who you are; it only matters what you portray.” That line resonates with Maher because, until he came out in a Sept. 28 EW article, he had portrayed a very different image of himself for most of his 14-year acting career.

Although some friends, family members and even co-workers knew he was gay, he rarely brought up his personal life on set and never spoke out publicly about it. But now, the 36-year-old and Paul, his partner of nearly nine years, have two children, Sophia Rose, 4, and Liam Xavier, 14 months. The couple, who exchanged wedding rings their first Christmas together, wants to raise the kids without secrets.

“How could I tell my daughter, ‘There’s something about our family we’ve got to keep to ourselves’?” Maher said. “Everything that we’re instilling in her is to have compassion and kindness and to be confident and to not judge and just to embrace who you are…

“I just wanted to be a good role model for my daughter.”

Now Maher is happier than he’s ever been both personally and professionally. “I feel really good about it,” he said. “I’m so happy how it’s turned out.”

Maher’s charade started when he moved to L.A. fresh out of New York University in 1997 and landed the coveted title role on Fox’s drama “Ryan Caulfield: Year One.” His publicist and manager at the time urged that he keep his sexuality a secret.

“I didn’t sleep pretty much the entire season,” he said, adding that he decided to stay in the closet because he thought being out would limit the jobs he might get and, in the case of that first job, that he would be fired. “I was petrified. I pictured the meeting with the Fox people: ‘We cannot have a gay actor being the star of our show.’”

During that period, Maher moved in with an old friend from NYU where, incidentally, he was out. (“If you’re not at least bi-curious [at NYU] there’s something wrong with you,” he joked.) His relationship with this friend in many ways mirrors that of his “Playboy Club” character and his wife, Bunny Alice.

Maher and his friend lived together in a one-bedroom apartment in West Hollywood. She knew he was gay—she was his last girlfriend when he was still “straight” in college—and would often accompany him to social events for work.

“She knew how hard I was struggling with it,” he said, adding that the two still are close friends. “People just assumed that she was my girlfriend. It really was this façade that I let people believe.”

By then Maher was deep in the closet, and like many closeted gay people he went to great lengths to keep from being found out. While filming the 2000 series “The Street,” he would go out to bars with his co-workers and hit on women to keep the pretense alive. “I didn’t even leave the character at work,” he said.

Keeping his secret became so exhausting that by the time he started filming “Firefly,” the 2002-03 Joss Whedon series for which he is probably best known, he subscribed to a belief that many closeted gay people do: It’s much easier to keep your secret when you just don’t socialize.

Maher avoided off-set contact with co-stars Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau, Morena Baccarin, Jewel Staite, Gina Torres and Alan Tudyk. Whedon called him the “aloof New York guy,” Maher said, because between takes he would go off by himself and read the New York Times.

Although he only fully engaged with his co-stars while he was shooting his scenes, he said having the job to go to at such a trying time and being able to work with such an amazing group “kind of saved my life.”

“I am so, so, so grateful for them; they really helped me get through this,” he said. “I think of that as the worst time in my life because after all those years of hiding all this I genuinely felt like my soul was being chipped away.”

After “Firefly” was canceled in December 2002, he decided to quit acting. He had been studying holistic nutrition and was considering moving to Maine to start a new life when, in April 2003, friends forced him to go to a “rather large gay event.” (He tried so hard to avoid going that he pretended to have food poisoning.)

That night changed his life. He met Paul, who he says inspired him to stay in Hollywood and pursue his dreams. After they started dating, Maher slowed down professionally and began to relax. He reveled in his new relationship.

“I hadn’t had that in my life for a really long time. It was so exhilarating and wonderful,” he said. “He’s an extraordinary person and I love him tremendously. Finally, for the first time in seven years I just focused a little more on my life.”

When he shot the “Firefly” feature film, 2005’s “Serenity,” he came out to his co-stars—“A lot of them were not surprised,” he said—and introduced them to Paul.

“Serenity” and 2006’s “Wedding Wars”—a TV movie from gay producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, whom Maher calls his mentors—were two of the last projects he worked on before taking two years off to be a stay-at-home dad for Sophia. He calls that time “enlightening,” and said he began thinking about coming out when he returned to work.

Then “The Playboy Club” came along.

“I got this part and it just seemed almost too perfect,” he said of the Chicago-filmed series, for which he’s been completely honest about who he is and happy with how it’s helping his acting. “There’s a sense a truth that I was missing that I hadn’t had since I was 22 that I feel like now I’m starting to regain.”

He’s also thrilled with the response to his coming out last week.

“The response has been just extraordinary,” he said, adding that he expected to get support from fans and co-stars, but not from so many other people in the industry. “A lot of casting directors and studio executives, a lot of people behind the scenes in our industry have reached out to me or my manager to say congratulations … and that they will only fight harder for me now.”

Maher said he would be honored to become an advocate for the gay community and equality in general, but the biggest reason for coming out is for his family.

“I always say that my daughter has been my greatest teacher. She was such a strong part in all of this,” he said. “She, of course, has no idea because she’s 4. But if I could just explain to her the decision that I made [was for her], I hope that she would be proud of me.”

Original Interview at Redeye

Sean Maher Opens Up About His Sexuality to EW

29 September 2011 Leave a comment

‘Playboy Club’ star Sean Maher opens up about his sexuality: ‘This is my coming out ball’

by Tanner Stransky

Firefly alum and Playboy Club actor Sean Maher has worked steadily in Hollywood for 14 years, and during that time, he made the choice to be closeted about his personal life as a gay man — until now.

For the first time, Maher opens up about his sexuality in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Weekly. “I was nervous coming here today because I’ve just never talked about it,” Maher says, while sitting down to chat at Little Dom’s Italian bistro in Los Angeles’ trendy Los Feliz neighborhood, the area where the actor lives with Paul, his partner of nearly nine years, and their two children, Sophia Rose, 4, and Liam Xavier, 14 months. “But, it’s so liberating. It was interesting to be coming to have a conversation that I was always afraid to have.” Despite his trepidation, he adds with a big smile: “This is my coming out ball. I’ve been dying to do this.”

“I’ve never discussed it publicly,” the 36-year-old continues. “I’ve never been asked about it publicly, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t paint a different picture.” Maher says that not coming out wasn’t so much a choice as much as it was a reality of the business when he first came to L.A. fresh out of college back in 1997. Publicists working with him during his first Tinseltown role as the title character on Fox’s short-lived cop drama Ryan Caulfield: Year One assumed he was straight — and he didn’t tell them otherwise, out of fear. “I’m 22, I move to L.A., and it’s such a cliché, but the day I arrive, publicists from the show took me out to The Ivy for lunch,” he remembers. “They’re telling me, ‘You know, gosh, we’d really appreciate it if you could keep your girlfriend on the side because we want to appeal to the female demographic of the show.’”

Granted, Maher could have corrected his handlers, but in that instant, he decided not to. “At that moment, I didn’t think to say, ‘Oh, I’m gay,’ because right before I left New York [where he went to college at NYU], I had my manager tell me: ‘You need to get a girl on your arm or people will start talking.’ I remember telling him: ‘I’m gay.’ He had no idea. And he said: ‘All the more reason to get a girl on your arm.’ My agent was also like, ‘It’s best if you keep your options open. Maybe bisexual?’”

Despite pressure from his manager and agent, both of whom he has since parted ways with, it was ultimately Maher’s decision to stay in the closet, out of concern that he wouldn’t otherwise be able to book leading-man roles. “I kept thinking, This is my first show, I don’t want to get fired,” Maher says. “I’m thinking, What is the potential that if they caught wind that they had cast a gay lead actor that they would fire me? I was young, I was 22. I didn’t know anything. So that sort of started the idea of, okay, well, I’m working a lot, I guess I’ll just keep that gay part of my life on the back burner for now. I went so far as to sleep with women a couple times. It was a very confusing time for me.”

But being in the closet tormented Maher. “It was so exhausting, and I was so miserable,” Maher says. “I didn’t really have any life other than work and this façade I was putting on. So I kept my friends from college [where he was out] separate from my work friends, and that was very confusing. I just kept going on and on painting this picture of somebody I wasn’t. I didn’t have time for a personal relationship anyway. And you just don’t realize that it’s eating away at your soul.”

Through the years, though, Maher has slowly let the people closest to him in on his secret. Two mentors of his are Craig Zadan and Neil Meron — a pair of powerful and openly gay producers behind movies like Hairspray and Chicago, as well as TV shows like Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva — with whom he has worked with on two TV movies, ABC’s Brian’s Song (2001) and A&E’s Wedding Wars (2006). “After I did this movie called Brian’s Song, where I was another football player, one of the producers Craig would watch the dailies and said he knew immediately,” Maher remembers. “He says he knew the instant he met me, although he told me this months later. Craig was a really wonderful mentor to me because he knew, but he never asked me and never forced me to say anything. He just did his best to indirectly guide me.”

In Wedding Wars, Maher actually did play a gay character — a scary position for a gay actor attempting to appear straight. “This was where it’s still kind of tricky,” Maher remembers of the Wedding Wars time period. “We decided to do no press for it because I wasn’t ready to answer the question. Neil and Craig knew, so we just decided, okay, I was a supporting character anyway. The press was going to fall on [star] John Stamos anyway.”

The role for which Maher is probably most well-known is Dr. Simon Tam, a surgeon on the run after breaking his sister River (Summer Glau, who he’s pictured with here) out of a research facility, on the cult TV series Firefly and follow-up feature Serenity, both created by Joss Whedon. Maher remembers those projects as some of his best — even though his personal life was still off-limits during that time. “Looking back, on Firefly for instance, I do wish on day one I had told them because these are some of the most amazing people who are still like family to me,” Maher says. “I am so grateful for that show because they saved me. I was so unhappy and lonely and to come to work everyday with that group was wonderful. It really was all I had at that point in my life.”

Although there have been famous cases of homophobia in Hollywood (ex. when Isaiah Washington called fellow actor T.R. Knight a gay slur on the set of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and was subsequently fired), Maher says he never encountered much hostility — mostly because he was never out and was very adept at acting straight. “Because I was never out, I was never addressed in a negative way to my face,” Maher says. “Although I witnessed a lot of it, whether it be making fun of gays or gay jokes. I just bit my tongue or looked the other way. That was part of the reason that I didn’t come out earlier — because there was an energy on set, and I felt like my being gay would have offset that, especially with the crew.”

Does Maher regret spending 14 years in the closet professionally? “I don’t think I have regrets,” he responds. “I do believe that sort of this journey took me to the place where I got and I don’t think I would feel so strongly about doing what I’m doing now had I not suffered for the years that I did.”

Having a family is what ultimately what made Maher want to be honest about his sexuality. “I have these beautiful children and this extraordinary family,” Maher says, “and to think in any way shape or form that that’s wrong or that there’s shame in that or that there’s something to hide actually turns my stomach.” Maher kept thinking about what daughter Sophia would say when she realized he was closeted professionally. “What would she think if I said, ‘Oh honey, you can’t come with me to work because they don’t know I have an adopted daughter and they don’t know that I’m gay.’ My children and our family, I’ve really never been as proud of anything in my life. I couldn’t be happier at this point in my life, and I feel like we’ve created this pretty extraordinary family.”

So, why does this revelation come now? Maher decided to use his role on NBC’s The Playboy Club — a character coincidentally also named Sean, a closeted man who’s married to lesbian Playboy Bunny Alice (Leah Renee Cudmore) – to finally engage in a dialogue about how being closeted has strained his life in Hollywood. “I was working on other stuff, and then this role came up, which was like a light bulb going off,” Maher remembers. “I was like, This is perfect. I want to do this, and I want to use it as a platform to come out.”

As viewers saw in the premiere episode on Sept. 19, his character is involved with launching the Chicago chapter of the Mattachine Society, an underground gay-rights group from the ’50s and ’60s. The organization is scarcely remembered, but was the subject of a recent play, The Temperamentals, that launched in New York City starring Ugly Betty alum Michael Urie. “That’s part of the reason I wanted to do it so badly,” Maher says, “because I do think it’s a story that needs to be told.”

Although Maher was only seen in a handful of scenes in the premiere episode, his character Sean’s storyline gets bigger in the coming weeks. For starters, he becomes the campaign manager for Playboy Club staple Nick (Eddie Cibrian), who’s running for state’s attorney. “There’s some great stuff in the next episode when we have my parents over for dinner,” Maher says.It’s a beard-y situation. When are we having grandkids comes up, but there is actually two things we’re hiding: There’s the gay thing for both of us, but then also the Playboy Club thing. [His parents] would be mortified if they knew she worked in the Club. So there’s lots of things we’re keeping hidden.”

In the end, coming out publicly is what Maher feels he needed to do to tie his life together, personally and professionally. “Creatively, I feel so much more open and free, and I am so happy on The Playboy Club,” he says. “I think it’s because I’ve never been so open on set. All of the relationships that I have off-camera, I never would have allowed five years ago. It feels so liberating.”

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky


Original Interview at EW


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