The Bedroom Interview: Dan Futterman

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The Bedroom Interview with Dan Futterman

If you’re a woman, Dan Futterman will hold doors open for you. If you’re a buddy, he’ll help you move. You’ll share a beer, and you’ll think he’s the kind of guy your parents wish you were. But you might be missing something else: he’s also the kid from down the block who started fires and never got caught. He guards that kid with charming vigilance, but the more time you spend with him, the more you can picture the flames. That hint of mild menace is particularly interesting to watch in his new film, Urbania, a shadowy, soulful story about loss and rage that’s been a hit on the festival circuit. I interviewed Dan in his temporary home in Los Angeles, where he’s shooting another season of CBS’ Judging Amy. Dan and I piled on his king-sized bed along with his fiancée (and my old friend), television writer Anya Epstein, and set about trying to get his inner arsonist to come out and play. —Adam Drucker

* * *

Let’s talk about your real bedroom in New York City.

At home, it’s all white. White bedding, the bureau and that’s it. I do not like hanging out in bedrooms.

Did you have a race car bed growing up?

No. I had a single bed.

But it wasn’t in the shape of a fire engine or something? I feel that it was.

No. No.

Is there any place you’d rather have sex than the bed?

No. The bed is my favorite place. It’s big and flat and soft. I mean, it’s the perfect place to have sex.

But you also say that you have this unfurnished, unadorned bedroom because you don’t like being there. So in some sense it’s just a purely utilitarian space for fucking.

A blank canvas.

Do you have a favorite position to sleep in?

I have been sleeping on my stomach lately because I snore if I’m on my back. So I have been asked to sleep on my stomach. [Dan looks pointedly at Anya.]

But you don’t have a preference?

Stomach is the way I fall asleep most easily, but it hurts my back. Side too, but I’ve been having shoulder problems.

[Anya] This is all very sexy.

I’d like to add a side note here — which is that in Urbania I play a gay character and there’s a lot of me making out with guys, and I hate it when actors do a gay part and then say things in interviews like, “So I was fucking my girlfriend,” or get their picture taken with their wife to make sure the world knows they are straight. And now here I am talking about my sleeping on my stomach with my fiancée and I feel like a hypocrite.

It is interesting that you have so often been cast as a gay man — on Sex and the City and also in Angels in America.

I think I get cast in gay roles because it feels good to me as an actor to be released from notions of how you’re supposed to be. I feel freer doing it. One of the things I like about Urbania is the way it deals with fluid sexuality — definitions of what it means to be a man and whether that means choosing revenge or forgiveness, straight or gay, tough or not tough.

Were you the brooding theater guy in high school?

No, I was sort of the cool meathead soccer guy.

Huh. So, in high school, who would you have wanted the most: Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears or Felicity?

I don’t have a mental picture of Christina Aguilera, so I don’t know — but definitely not Britney Spears. You know who I thought was sexy when I was in high school? Meg Ryan.

[Anya to Dan] I would hate to do this if I were you. There is so much opportunity to come off like an asshole.

[Absentmindedly massaging Anya’s leg] You were in The Birdcage with two of the most annoying men that have ever lived — Nathan Lane and Robin Williams. How did you —

Would you get your hand off my girlfriend!

I didn’t even realize I was doing that. I’m sorry — I think I was nervous about expressing my disdain for two of America’s beloved comedy heroes. But that was a nice response — very alpha male of you. Do you find those actors annoying?


If you had to sleep with one of them, who would you choose?

Don’t be ridiculous.

Okay, who would you rather sleep with: Calista Flockhart [Dan’s co-star in The Birdcage] or Amy Brenneman? Of course you’re gonna say Amy Brenneman because you’re working with her now on Judging Amy

And because it’s true, right?

[Long pause] I’m not sure that’s true . . .

Come on, come on. Chop chop.

You could pick between Nathan Lane and Robin Williams.


If you were in Oz, would you be a punk or the one who had the punk?

Would I be somebody’s punk?! What kind of question is that?

It’s about whether you would want to be dominated or dominate somebody else.

No, I don’t think it’s what you want to be — I don’t think you have a choice. And I think Danny’d be the punk.

With you being the dominator?

Well, I meant others — but I do think that I could take you. When you were a kid was there anyone on TV who turned you on? I used to get hard watching The Carol Burnett Show — I don’t know why. My sister would laugh and point. Was there anyone on TV who got you going?

I thought you liked Laura Ingalls Wilder. Melissa Gilbert, right? And that’s funny because I wanted to be her.

I got her. I got the Jewish Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Would you guys ever give each other dispensations? Like if one of you had the opportunity to have sex with someone else — some woman Anya knows you’ve always fantasized about since you were young — would she allow it?

We’ve talked about that. And honestly I would not want one. There are two ways of looking at it. One is that if you deny yourself the dispensation and don’t get to have sex with that person, then you’ve somehow missed an experience in your life. But the other way of looking at it is that if you allow yourself the dispensation then you deny yourself the experience of a forty-year relationship just having sex with one person. I’d rather shoot for the forty years.

Didn’t I make the right choice?

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© 2000 Adam Drucker and Nerve.com, Inc.