Jack the Lad: John Barrowman talks to Andrew Kay about Desperate Housewives, West End theatre, tabloid sensationalism and his Captain Jack doll
Are you looking forward to the tour?
Yeah, highlighting the new album and lots of other songs, some from Tonight’s The Night. We usually do a montage of things. People want to come in and feel like they’ve had a really good night of song and dance and stories, a good entertainment show.
This time the venue is bigger…
We just wanted to start doing bigger things. My goal is to one day, hopefully – and whether it happens or not is another story – to do Vegas.
I read your website and had to lie down after! Exhausting! How do you fit so much in?
I dunno, I have a good team and I don’t plan too much ahead. I tell them what I wanna do and obviously I’m a big part in making that happen. A friend of mine said to me: ‘You’re gonna be doing your tour, how?’ And I said I hadn’t even thought about it. I said I’ll concentrate on that once I’ve finished with Tonight’s The Night. I take everything a step at a time and I try not to get overwhelmed by anything, and if I do get overwhelmed then I go okay, we need to kinda pace it down a little, but y’know I’m here to work, I’m not gonna sit back.
Your big break was in West End theatre. Will we see you back there?
I don’t know if you will see me in the West End for a little while, solely because I’ve got commitments with Torchwood next year in the US so I’ll be splitting time between the US and here. And my pantomime commitments. The unfortunate thing with West End is that producers want you to do, which I understand, at least a year or more. If it is a new show they want to make their money back. I can’t make that commitment, that’s why certain shows, it wouldn’t be viable for me to go into.
Do you miss that?
I do miss a certain aspect of it, but a certain aspect of it I don’t miss: [laughs] eight shows a week, which I know and
And the same thing day in, day out…
Correct. The same thing over and over; you have to really love what you’re doing, and I’ve done all that, and I would love to do it again at some point, but it is nice to be able to do other things. The thing I miss about it is the family feel because you are working with those people every day, I miss that, but I don’t miss not having a life [laughs].
Do you ever get to go home?
I’m home now at my desk going through stuff for the tour, checking out things for LA, doing some work, but yeah, I do get to go home.
“The fact is I do the same thing in my bed that everybody else does … I sleep”
Is home South Wales?
No, home is London. South Wales is where I run my company from. We spend weekends there and I do work there so it’s kinda split between both.
You’ve managed to manage the press attention toward your sexuality…
I have never really made it an issue. Whether somebody is gay or not shouldn’t make a difference. If someone’s open and honest about it, what’s the big difference? Y’know, it’s funny because for a long period of time they tried to make the whole being gay thing sensational and seedy, and the fact is I do the same thing in my bed that everybody else does. I sleep [laughs].
Well, some of the time?!
Well, yeah, like everybody else.
I recently interviewed Rupert Everett who said he’d regretted coming out and thought it had changed the course of his career…
I think he has had a great career, I think he’s still got a good career, and I enjoy everything he does.
It hasn’t stopped you playing leading heterosexual male roles and bisexual roles?
And so it shouldn’t.
Do you enjoy… I was going to use the words straight theatre, as much as musical theatre?
I enjoy all aspects of it; I don’t see a difference between the two. I find they both take a lot in their own specific ways. What I don’t like is that some people in straight theatre say that musicals are a lesser art form – that’s a loada rubbish. Musical theatre is probably the hardest of all the theatrical arts because you have to do singing, dancing and acting. You can’t just get up and dance otherwise it’s boring. It’s putting the emotion behind something that causes it to be engaging and makes you want to watch it and that’s the beauty of musical theatre.
The current TV series on BBC on Saturday nights must be very demanding?
It is, but it’s great fun. A lot of my work started weeks prior to being on air because I had to travel all over the country doing the surprise hits on people. I love doing it, and I think it is important because it’s a way of… let me put this in a nutshell: I’m living the dream and for me to be able to give back to people who have made my dream come true is really important to me.
How was your Desperate Housewives experience?
It was brilliant, we didn’t plan for it but we had a nine-week window and Mark Cherry, the creator and writer, had said he would love me to be involved, and the window came up, so he wrote the character and put it in. What I didn’t realise was how much it would raise my profile internationally. Desperate Housewives is one of the top three TV shows in the history of television.
And they managed to kill you off…
They had to because I’ve got to do Torchwood. [Laughs].
Do you still have your collection of Barbie dolls?
I do, and I’ve added to those because I now collect Tonner Dolls – they have done Captain Jack and Gwen, big beautiful 12″ dolls; they’re really cool.
So I could go online and buy a 12″ John Barrowman?
You certainly can!
I think we should stop it at that point!
John Barrowman will be at the Brighton Centre on Tuesday 5 October, £19.50-£37.50, 0844 847 1515