Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Robert Gant, action man


Gay actor does spy turn in here!TV's 'Kiss Me Deadly'

Robert Gant in Kiss Me Deadly . Photo: Regent Releasing
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"Whenever I play a gay character, it means a lot to me. I know now that it's going to reach a lot of my brothers and sisters, and that we can still entertain and move the ball forward." That ball's now in full-court press.

You know Robert Gant from the Showtime series Queer as Folk as Professor Ben Bruckner, the hunky boyfriend of comic-book writer Michael Novotny (Hal Sparks). Now Gant is well on his way to becoming the first out gay action hero in more than one project, while also producing a few others.

In Kiss Me Deadly, Gant's character, Jacob Keane, discovers what happens when an ex-Cold War spy's past catches up with him, literally. With chase scenes, intrigue and a few million stolen dollars in a Swiss bank account, Kiss Me Deadly takes on the thriller genre with a realistic tone and a handsome leading man who just happens to be gay. (Although it borrows the title, the film's not based on the Mickey Spillane pulp novel, or the noir film adaptation of the same name.)

For Gant, the spy business began after meetings with here! executives. "We bounced a lot of ideas around, and this was put into motion," said the actor in a phone interview from his Los Angeles home. "They thought that I might be the right guy for it. I had wanted to work with here! I appreciate what they're doing, moving queer programming forward, expanding the genre.

"We have role models to an extent in the real world, but not so many, like our straight counterparts, in the fictitious world of film," said Gant. "Kids of all ages, even gay ones, want to be Superman or a spy. We're now starting to have our own. I was excited by the prospect of creating a fictional character like that."

Born in Tampa, Florida, Robert Gonzalez moved to LA in the early 1990s to work as a lawyer after his Georgetown education. But when the law firm closed after only a few months, he returned to acting, where he'd already had some experience. After changing his last name, and getting more than a decade of work on TV shows (Ellen, Silk Stalkings, Friends, Melrose Place), as well as recurring roles on Caroline in the City and Popular, Gant now has a stronger decision in the work he takes, and how he portrays gay characters.

"One of the things that was important to me was not to go the comedic route," said Gant of his espionage-themed role. "Invariably, when people hear 'gay spy,' they chuckle. I appreciate the fact that we came from the other side. The character's being gay is just a part of the back-story, in the way that it would for any film. So many of our stories have tended to revolve around just being gay. I think we're starting to move beyond that.

"What also drew me to it is the notion of an openly gay leading actor playing a leading-man role," he added. "This is a traditionally heterosexual kind of character. In its own way, it moves in that direction."

One of Gant's co-stars in Kiss Me Deadly harkens back to Gant's past, when he app

Robert Gant with costar Shannen Doherty in Kiss Me Deadly. Photo: Regent Releasing
eared on Beverly Hills 90210 with Shannen Doherty.

"As actors, we play off one another," said Gant. "Shannen was more interested in underplaying. We had a lot of fun working together; you play off one another."

And how was tussling in a fight scene with gay Australian rugby veteran Ian Roberts? Gant said that he enjoyed it, and even had a hand in getting the former athlete-turned-actor in the film.

"Ian and I had been in contact before, and I wondered if he would be available," said Gant. "Once they put the project together, that we would be filming in New Zealand, it worked out."

Taking the ball

In-between appearances at LGBT and AIDS-focused fundraisers, as well as his work with SAGE (Seniors Active in a Gay Environment), the 39-year-old actor-producer hasn't been content to wait for roles to show up. He's made them happen.

Gant's other projects include Save Me , about people at an addiction-recovery retreat that includes some "ex-gays." After a premiere at last year's Sundance Film Festival and an opening at LA's Outfest, Gant said he expects a theatrical release in July or August. "It's a really powerful film." Save Me also stars Judith Light and out gay actor Chad Allen, who share producer credits.

In an upcoming TV movie, Special Delivery , Gant plays a straight ex-husband. While only a supporting role, for Gant, it's another milestone. "This is the first time [since coming out that] I've played the heterosexual romantic counterpart," he said.

Any conversation with Gant about acting inevitably returns to Queer as Folk. Gant came out during the show's run. Of its impact on his life and gay culture, he said, "I didn't see it coming. But I get why it came along with a zeitgeist feel that it did. Ours is a community that has largely been starved for its stories, particularly on television, even on cable. Queer as Folk took the ball and ran way down the field."

His next project, The Gayonic Man , is a comedic take on the science-fiction action-hero genre. While still in development with Logo (the other gay network), Gant will star and executive produce. He promises laughs and no shortage of shirtless scenes for himself.

"We have the script," he said. "I think it's going to be a flagship show for Logo. The cast will be very sexy, and we'll pump it up, so to speak."

And since Kiss Me Deadly's ending is more of a beginning, we can look for more from the spy who's hunky.

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