The British countryside on a winter’s night in the early 1980s: inky darkness all around, the outlines of high Cornish hedges, fields and copses of trees speeding by as this reporter’s father drives him home from a choir practice.
There is no video recorder at home. Instead, my father, as requested, has set up an old-school tape recorder in front of the TV to record that night’s episode—Season 3, Episode 6—of Dynasty. That tape is now playing as the car speeds through the Cornish night.
The episode’s cliffhanger approaches, with Alexis (Joan Collins) sternly instructing her evil son Adam: “I’ll decide if Jeff Colby becomes a real threat. Not you. I.”
Swell of music, unseen climactic freeze frame with the names of Aaron Spelling, the famed co-executive producer of the show, alongside Douglas S. Cramer. Ecstasy.
Thirty-four years later, near the end of our interview, the actor Gordon Thomson, who played Adam, one of the nastiest, sexiest villains on prime-time television in the 1980s, says: “It’s very nice to be as candid as I have been, believe me.” He has just come out.
Thomson had wondered before we spoke whether his sexuality would come up in our conversation, and what he would say if it did. Would he shout “How dare you?” and “get on my high horse” and terminate the call, or—the unspoken alternative—would he finally say what he has not felt able to say all these years: that yes, he is gay.
Thomson has an actor’s voice—rich, deep-toned—and his wit is as arch as he is direct.
Coming out may seem a familiar thing for public figures to do these days, yet it remains a brave and life-changing act whether you’re a high school kid, or TV star, or former star. For Thomson—although some fans have mused about his sexuality online and for many this may not seem any kind of big deal in 2017—this is a momentous moment, especially as when he was a huge prime-time star coming out would have been “professional suicide,” as he puts it.
Thomson’s experience shines an illuminating light on what life in the closet for a celebrity is actually like: the calculations made, benefits accrued and costs incurred.
Now Thomson is 72, his life has moved on, and he wants to talk about his life in and out of the closet, and the “shame” of which he only now feels he is managing to rid himself.
He will talk not just about being gay but Dynasty itself (the original show is being released on Oct. 10 by Paramount Home Video as a 57-disc set, which includes all 217 episodes), the crazy storylines (Fallon’s alien abduction was the show’s death knell, Thomson says), the show’s leading ladies Joan Collins and Linda Evans, and why the reboot—set to premiere on the CW on Oct. 11—is “total shit, an abomination.”
This is the kind of straight talk you’d expect from Adam, famed over seven seasons of high drama for poisoning good-guy hunk Jeff Colby (Thomson’s friend John James, aka “J.J.”) with lead paint, or raping his love Kirby (Kathleen Beller), and generally being a sneaky, despicable weasel.
Adam was also extremely sexy, whether in a towel or gym shorts; most gay friends growing up in the 1980s who watched Dynasty later said they were Jeff fans.
I was Adam-all-the-way: He was such a strange, transfixing villain to watch, and the character himself—joining the show as a recently discovered Carrington, kidnapped as a young boy—always set him apart.
Desperate for a place in this regal, campy dysfunctional, company-owning and destroying, Alexis-and-Krystle epic catfighting, shoulder-padded nightmare of a family, Adam did anything he could to gain power. Steven Carrington (Al Corley, later Jack Coleman) may have been gay, but the heterosexual Adam was queer in the truest sense of the word.
‘The shame, the breathtaking lack of self-esteem, has only just begun to seep out of my soul’
Before we talked about his sexuality, I had asked Thomson what he made of Steven’s nine years of gay-one-minute, straight-the-next oscillating sexuality. It was both a radical prime-time character, and a puzzling, inconsistently written one.
“I thought it was bullshit,” Thomson says. “At the time, the AIDS crisis had a lot to do with pressure on the network. I know that Al Corley quit because he felt they were not allowing him to play the part honestly. And they weren’t.
“I was very impressed to hear him say that as Steven when he met his boyfriend they would only allow them to shake hands. He left the show because he thought that was crap, and of course it was.
“Today there is gay marriage, and what an enormous difference. It was appallingly handled. They opened a can of worms and weren’t true to it, and they could have been. They had good actors playing the parts. It was a big shame. I’m very sorry.”
Presuming Thomson might be gay, I ask if, as a gay actor performing in Dynasty (in another twist, Adam was homophobic), Thomson ever wanted to say to the writers and producers of Steven’s bizarre trajectory: “This is not what being gay is.”
“Oh no. No. I wasn’t out, are you kidding?” Thomson says. “The show, the time, the fact I was a leading man to look at. No. No. No. Rock [Hudson, who appeared in Dynasty before dying of complications due to AIDS, and whose kiss with Linda Evans’ Krystle was notorious because of ’80s AIDS panic] only came out when he got sick. This was an utterly different time.
“Richard Chamberlain (Dr. Kildare, The Thorn Birds), who I know very slightly, had what I think was the right attitude to it. If you look like a leading man, why bother coming out? You don’t have to. The fact is half your audience is women and most of those women are straight, and this is who you are playing to especially with a show like Dynasty, or a soap opera.
“You’re also a source of fantasy. Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi are wonderful people, but pardon me, how many audience members fantasize about fucking either one of them? Really. It had a lot to do with what you looked like, I’m afraid.
“It’s not something I’ve ever announced,” he says of his sexuality. “I’m assuming that people know, and now that I’m my age that’s fine. I don’t go out of my way because it’s my generation, I think. I’m probably as homophobic as any gay man alive because of my background.”
Thomson was born and raised in Ottawa, studied English at McGill University in Montreal, and before Dynasty had done stage work (Jesus in Godspell, Love’s Labour’s Lost), as well as daytime soap (Ryan’s Hope). He was a very young-looking 37 when he got the role of Adam Carrington, who was supposed to be in his mid-twenties.
“When I was growing up it [homosexuality] was a crime, and then classified as a mental illness. It was not until Pierre Trudeau was prime minister of Canada when I was 23, 24 years old, did it cease being a crime, and it was not until I was nearly 30 that it stopped being classified as a mental illness in the U.S. So you’re dealing with that. And the shame, the breathtaking lack of self-esteem, has only just begun to seep out of my soul.”
Really, I say, that sounds like an awfully long time of feeling bad about oneself.
“Oh yes, absolutely, absolutely,” Thomson replies quietly.
However much he has come to terms with his sexuality, Thomson says, a residue of shame will remain part of who he is.
“I am OK, but what has changed about me inside is not enough, and never will be because of my background. I went to private school. My father went there. He was an absolute dishonorable cunt, not a nice man. The school has a really restrictive, all-boys atmosphere.
“I didn’t have any sexual sense until I was 12 or 13. My older brother recently told me when he had his first wet dream he thought, ‘What is wrong with me?’ Nobody had told him, he thought, ‘What is this stuff?’ Hopefully parenting has improved.”
I ask Thomson if he has ever had a boyfriend. “I did have a partner, though not successfully—sadly, ultimately, because of my lack of self-esteem,” he replies.
I ask how his self-esteem is now, and he takes an audibly deep breath. “Much healthier. How’s yours?”
I say I was fortunate to meet a group of out, and politically and socially engaged LGBTQ people when I came out at 16.
“Good for you, that’s good luck,” Thomson says softly.
I tell him how extremely sexy I and a lot of other people found him in Dynasty; he should at least know that gay men lusted after him.
Thomson lets out a roar of laughter. “Once in a while I get sent photographs of myself, shirtless in a black leather jacket, to autograph from fans, and I think, ‘Yes, I would get a woody looking at myself.’ I exaggerate, but that is a surprise.”
He never got lucky with groupies? “No. It’s like what Richard Chamberlain said, ‘Don’t fuck with the fantasy.’”
Thomson says that out actor Matt Bomer, who he thinks is extraordinarily good-looking and talented, has the latitude to be open “because he has a rich, successful husband. He doesn’t need his work to live,” as Thomson did and still does.
I ask if Thomson thinks Hollywood still has “a closet problem”; is it still a place where actors are reticent about coming out? “Without question, absolutely,” says Thomson, and gives the example of a show he recently shot, playing the father of the hero character. “The ‘vibe’ on that set—sorry I hate that word but that’s what it was—was so heterosexual. I didn’t want to say, ‘Guess what everybody, the guy playing the father is gay.’ If I had there would have been a slight shift away which I wasn’t ready to deal with.”
Surely, even if he wasn’t out, Thomson would have been around other gays in Hollywood.
“Not that much not to begin with,” he says. “When I began to do Santa Barbara (the now-extinct daytime soap he appeared in after Dynasty) things got much looser. I could not have gone to the gym if it were like today with people and their iPhones and no privacy.”
He laughs, recalling himself and Jack Coleman hitting the bars of Sunset Boulevard. “I’m a gay man playing an homophobic asshole, he’s proving he isn’t gay while playing this man longing to be in love with another man. Someone should make that into the TV movie of the week.”
All this, and you were in the gayest show on TV, I say. Thomson roars with laughter. “From your perspective,” he says.
‘It would have been professional suicide without question’
In a later phone call, I ask what it was like for Thomson being gay and also playing a homophobe. “I’m an actor, it was my job,” Thomson says plainly. “Ask (Laurence) Olivier what it was liken playing Othello. He’s not black, and I doubt we’ll see many white actors play Othello again, but Adam was a role I played. ‘You don’t have to be one to play one.’”
On set, John Forsythe (Blake) set the tone of a supremely professional entente cordiale. “There wasn’t a lot of socializing,” he says of his off-set friendships with the rest of the cast. “I was shy, because of the gay thing.”
He wasn’t out to his fellow actors?
“No, they didn’t have a clue. Never. No, no, no.” He pauses. “I suppose if they cared, people knew.”
Thomson says he had a common-law wife in Toronto for a long time. “It was a legitimate, genuine relationship of 15 years,” he says. “She’s the reason I don’t have any money today.” He laughs. “We loved each other and didn’t sign anything. I supported her afterwards very handsomely, but that wasn’t deductible, so it was all net dollars.”
In some interviews he would refer to her, he says. “Once in a while a tabloid would start sniffing around. They had no proof, and I wasn’t going to furnish the story because I was not suicidal professionally, and to come out would have been professional suicide without question.”
Later, after the show ended and he was in Santa Barbara, Thomson says he began to get a social life underway, and then got together with the long-term partner he mentioned. “Now I have very good friends who are supportive and it’s not an issue and also, thank god, I’m not 40 looking 30 any more, I’m 72 looking 60.”
Thomson lets out one of his magnificent roars of laughter.
Would he like a partner now? “No, no, no, no, no,” he says, each a little bullet of heartfelt dissent. “I do not. Definitely do not.
“I met somebody at somebody’s birthday party four or five years ago and this man was very attractive. His first words to me were: ‘You look absolutely wonderful.’” Thomson laughs. “You don’t say that to somebody! It was best first line I’ve ever heard practically.
“I said, ‘Thank you very much,’ and we were going to have lunch a week later. I got lost. I have no sense of direction and no GPS in my car I ended up in Koreatown (in Los Angeles) for chrissake. I finally found a phone to use in a store. I had no information for him. I finally found the restaurant and apologized profusely: ‘I should have been there 10 minutes ago, sorry.’
“And then I realized, ‘Let’s not do this again.’ I did finally email him and say, ‘Look, there’s a reason why this happened. I’m not ready for anybody.’ I probably never will be. I’ve turned into hermit, a recluse, I have in many ways and I want to keep it that way.”
Why so? Thomson laughed softly and paused. “That’s another hour conversation. There are reasons I know about, and a few I don’t know about. But basically I like my own company a lot. There’s one dog left and when she goes, no more pets.
“I am not an unkind individual. I don’t think I have the energy, and I don’t want to take my clothes off in front of anybody—not even my doctor unless I absolutely have to. So, taking my clothes off now, you wouldn’t go: ‘Oh my goodness wow.’ You wouldn’t get a woody is what I’m trying to say.”
‘If the afterlife exists—it doesn’t, but if it did—Aaron Spelling would be having major fits in his grave’
Thomson is still angry that he did not appear on the utterly insane Dynasty: The Reunion in 1991, as he was appearing in Santa Barbara at the time. “When I read the script I’d never read such crap in my life. I remember one line that I thought I could never say: ‘I was seduced by the lure of the gold.’ What the fuck? What an appalling line.”
He would have loved to have performed in it, but when he heard that Robin Sachs had been given the role of Adam “because he fit the clothes,” it was hurtful. “That’s insulting to him, the audience, the character, and me. He did a decent job I guess, but no effort was made around working with my schedule and that made me very angry.”
Not wishing to retract his talons, Thomson then starts in on the reboot.
“I have had a look at the new Dynasty and I am appalled,” he says. “What the fuck is the CW doing? It’s utter shit.”
The show’s original executive producers, Richard and Esther Shapiro, remain so for the reboot. Krystle is now the Latina Cristal; she and Fallon are vying for corporate glory and having catfights; Jeff Colby is played by African-American actor Sam Adegoke; Steven is openly gay, father Blake is fine with it, and Sammy Jo is now male. Alexis’ introduction remains a mystery, though apparently shows up in Season 1.
The story is being told from the beginning, with the sequence and nature of storylines and characters tweaked.
“It’s not a continuation, as Dallas did,” says Thomson, “but goes way back to the beginning. Blake fucks Cristal across a desk. The catfights are kitty snits. The acting is dreadful, truly dreadful. The writing is appalling. I don’t know what possessed the Shapiros to bother.
“Why call it Dynasty? It’s nothing to do with Dynasty at all. It’s insulting. If the afterlife exists—it doesn’t, but if it did—Aaron would be having major fits in his grave. And the audience the CW is aiming for is going to think it’s shit because it is such shit that a cretinous 6-year-old would not be interested. It’s abominable.”
None of the original cast was approached to play in it, says Thomson. “Nobody over the age of 30 is in the show,” Thomson says. Pamela Bellwood (Claudia Blaisdel) put it well when she said the original show had three main characters who were adults over 40 who had “wonderful lives, emotional lives sex lives, who were passionate individuals.”
If the new Dynasty called Thomson, would he return? “No, not to this. I don’t think any of us would.” In the Dynasty he and other stars had imagined reviving, Adam might be governor of Colorado, Jeff the head of ColbyCo, and Fallon the head of Denver Carrington. But, it seems, that is not to be.
‘Adam was such a son of a bitch’
Thomson didn’t realize how famous he had become until a trip to Norway on 1984, whose then-socialist government had disapproved of Dynasty. Enterprising individuals there had been putting it on videotape, and invited him over.
Thomson walked out onto a stage to face 10,000 happily screaming fans. “I briefly felt like how Mick Jagger must feel all the time. That was my introduction to the power of Aaron’s show. It was quite extraordinary.”
He was thankful that he was as old as he was. “I had been working as an actor for 16 years by that time so I knew my job, which had always proved—and does to this day—my sole source of safety, comfort, and pleasure. I love what I do. No matter where I am in the world, as long as I am doing it, I am happy.”
He met Prince Charles in 1987, who told him Dynasty was Princess Diana’s favorite show. “I have a photograph of our meeting, and a huge indication of the power of the show is that most of the people around us are looking at me, not him.”
People responded to him with shy hellos and thank yous. In Britain, the tabloids christened Adam “Mr. Nasty.”
“Adam was such a son of a bitch, a deeply unpleasant individual, that people were surprised that I smiled,” Thomson recalls. “People were apprehensive around me. Their sigh of relief was almost audible. J.J. (John James) as Jeff was the prince of the show and had to live up to that. I didn’t have to live up to who I played. I had to basically live it down.”
Of James’ sexiness, Thomson says, “I had not a shrivel if interest in him back then.” (Later this week, The Daily Beast will also speak to John James and Pamela Bellwood.)
Originally, Adam was slated to appear in just six episodes. “Joan (Collins, Alexis) wasn’t happy. I was a lot older than she was used to when it came to her TV children. Suddenly, on Dynasty, she had three or four children who were old enough to vote. Thank god at the time for my genes. I was in my forties when you thought I was hot in my towel. I wouldn’t have got the job had I looked 37,” Thomson says.
In his twenties, when he was in Godspell opposite Gilda Radner, Martin Short, and Eugene Levy (“Six months, $234 a week, nobody could live anywhere on that money”), Thomson was also a catalog model. “It wasn’t glamorous but it paid the bills. I had to be in good shape. I had a 29-inch waist when I was in Ryan’s Hope, and a 32-inch waist for most of Dynasty.”
Thomson brought to Adam a sense of danger; Adam’s scenes are full of his poisonous fury at the world and his perceived enemies; sometimes the fury is suppressed, sometimes it is on explosive display.
Thomson says he brought the same qualities to playing Dracula on stage. He was on the cusp, he says, of being the leading man in the 1973-74 Stratford Shakespeare season. “But I wouldn’t sleep with the artistic director. My career came to end on stage. I loved doing Shakespeare. I would have gotten better at it. I was robbed. Shakespeare is so multi-faceted and has affected how I look at any role.”
Indeed, you can see traces of the benighted, tragically flawed, and poisonous Iago, Hamlet, and Macbeth in Adam Carrington.
Was Thomson like Adam in any way? “Not particularly. We look alike, that’s it. We couldn’t be more different in so many ways.”
I asked if Thomson’s then-closetedness in any way informed Adam’s brooding distance from his loved ones. “I wasn’t aware of that, but that kind of thing is part of an actor’s toolbox, certainly. I was ready for the role. I had cut my teeth. I don’t know how anyone aged 23 or 24 would have maintained their sanity, because anything you want you can have. You’ll pay for it, but you can have it.
“Knowing at 18 I wanted to act cut out a lot of crap. I never did drugs, orgies, no thank you. I knew what I had to do: Acting was my temple, my religion. I’m an atheist: Acting is what I love, trust, and believe in. That was an enormous armor for me, and so was my age. I was never prey, thank god.”
The problem the women on the show faced was the relentless on- and off-set scrutiny of their looks, says Thomson.
The show was short by two minutes one week, he recalls, and producers called Beller (Kirby) in to record a filler scene late on a Friday, “which she did like a pro.”
On Monday, the producers had notes about hair and wardrobe, and not one thank you for her sterling impromptu scene. “That fucking phrase: ‘the look of the show,’” Thomson says scornfully. “They paid so much attention to looks, and not enough to characters—and Steven was the one who was short-changed the most, without question.”
In contrast to the women, kitted out in their glittering, massive-shouldered gowns by Nolan Miller, the men were made up in five to 10 minutes, he says.
‘Joan was jealous of Linda. Linda was not the actress Joan was and is, and was just effortlessly adored’
Thomson’s favorite scenes were his introductory scenes with Lurene Tuttle playing his grandmother, revealing his long-lost Carrington status, and later his first with Collins.
“There I was (as Michael Torrance as Adam was first known), looking through my grandmother’s undies to find that silver baby rattle.” He puts on the Adam voice, as he re-enacts staring into the mirror in that scene. “‘My name is Adam Alexander Carrington.’ I got a shiver saying it just now. What a great backstory.”
He and Collins had an instant spark, even if when Thomson first met her, her first words to him were, “Oh yes, you’re here to test for the part of my son. It’s ridiculous darling, you’re much too old.”
Thomson laughs. “It took me four years to realize what an appalling thing that was to say to somebody. I didn’t take it that personally. Her justifiable vanity is colossal, and I knew she was right. Joan and I had chemistry from the word go.”
But while Thomson and Collins “got along like a house,” she did not with John Forsythe and Linda Evans, according to Thomson.
“Joan didn’t like Linda because Linda was loved. She was a star effortlessly. Joan was at best a Grade B movie star, and she always wanted to be a huge star. She knew she was three or four on the totem pole of English brunettes, at the top of which was her friend Elizabeth Taylor.
“Joan had a wonderful sex life, marriages, and kids, and she arrived on Dynasty with a lot of résumé. Joan knew Alexis was ‘kapow’ and dug all 10 fingernails into the part and went with it. It was a big treat to watch. I was told Aaron said to her, ‘You saved my show,’ and she did.”
When Forsythe found out Collins had posed for Playboy when she turned 50, he stormed to Spelling’s office to complain, says Thomson. “I just thought how bloody good she looks, bravo!”
“Joan was jealous of Linda,” says Thomson. “Linda was not the actress Joan was and is, and was just effortlessly adored by everybody on set, off set, the public. I have never met a more sympathetic, empathic, generous, gorgeous-looking human in my life. She was miraculous, and the audience knew that.”
Thomson had the most fun playing the bad guy, he says, and when people ask how he felt playing such an appalling character, he says that he was just playing Adam, not judging him. “Adam and Alexis were many people’s favorite characters,” Thomson says with a chuckle, “because we were sexy, attractive, very fucked-up, and very ruthless.”
He blames his “bad management” at the time for making him the only member of the Dynasty cast not to get a movie of the week during the 1980s. “Ever,” he says sharply. “And I was well-equipped—better equipped than most of the cast.”
Poisoning poor Jeff for months with a toxic paint compound was “absolutely wonderful.”
He relished the story, especially in comparison to “the really ghastly alien story poor Emma (Samms, Fallon) had to cope with. That was the kiss of death for the show. That was the worst thing that the show decided to stick on the public. The worst. It had nothing to do with anything Dynasty was ever connected with.”
It reminded him of being cast in Ryan’s Hope as an Egyptologist, cast because one of the show’s creators had gone to Egypt and fallen in love with it. But, he says laughing, an Egyptologist had no place in a show centered around an Irish pub in New York City.
“It’s a mistake to veer too far from the essence of a show. The Golden Girls had the living room and the kitchen. Dynasty had the mansion. Aliens from Mars: What an insane idea that was.” Thomson says that the show’s co-creator Esther Shapiro had told a room full of writers: “The first person to laugh is fired. Richard (Shapiro, her husband and this show’s other creator) has had a vision: aliens.”
‘We walked out of that massacre, two by two, like Noah’s Ark. It was ludicrous’
Thomson didn’t like the writers making Adam nicer as time went on. “Mine was the most interesting part for a guy on Dynasty. He was so fucked-up, attractive, bright, and intense. Passion is very sexy unless the person goes berserk, which Adam did once in awhile. But this show was an hour’s worth of holiday once every week. It wasn’t St. Elsewhere or L.A. Law, or some other equally well-intentioned drama. We were this extraordinary serial of beautiful fucked-up people.”
The infamous “Moldavian Massacre” of the 1985 season finale, when terrorists shot all the cast members (with all the show’s lead characters subsequently surviving) left Thomson incredulous.
“When I saw it, I thought, ‘What a wasted opportunity that was. We walked out of that massacre, two by two, like Noah’s Ark. It was ludicrous. Nobody had a scratch. We were beautifully dressed. Nobody was limping. I thought, ‘At least put someone’s life in jeopardy.’”
Ali MacGraw and Rock Hudson had joined the show that season, too, the idea being their characters would have affairs with Blake and Krystle respectively.
“John Forsythe was having none of it,” says Thomson. He gave Ali a big bunch of flowers when she arrived as if to say: Welcome, and that is not going to happen. For him there was never a remote possibility that Blake and Krystle would be unfaithful to one another.
“He had a strait-laced determination to make this couple the most magical and unreal couple there ever was. He was in love with Linda probably, quietly and by himself.”
Thomson said Hudson was so ill on the set that it took the make-up artist an hour and a half to make him look presentable. “He was still very handsome, and was very concerned about his kiss with Krystle. But when you watch it, it’s the kiss you give a 2-year-old baby. There was nothing sexual about it. We were all so ignorant about how HIV was transmitted in 1985.”
At the time, ABC was known, says Thomson, as the “Aaron Broadcasting Company” as Spelling had contributed so many hit shows to the network’s schedules. The show might have survived a bit longer beyond its death in 1989, Thomson says, but “nobody was heartbroken when it stopped, because whatever had been juicy about the show was gone. I was lucky to be involved in its juiciest years.”
It’s great to see his castmates for events and TV reunions, Thomson says. He saw Beller and Leann Hunley, who played Adam’s last on-screen wife Dana, a couple of years ago, “looking gorgeous and it was lovely.”
I ask if there was anything he hadn’t done as Adam that he would loved to have done?
“I can’t remember what he didn’t do,” says Thomson, laughing. Had the show continued he thinks Adam’s wife Dana may have made him a little socially easier, but—phew!—not altered his fundamental rottenness.
‘I’d like to play another monster, I really would’
Thomson misses Adam Carrington, he says, and next would like to play someone like him. He came close to Santa Barbara, even though his character wasn’t evil. “It was 35 pages a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year: It was wonderful,” he says.
“I’d love to play some Adam-like grown up executive behind a desk being an absolute shit,” Thomson says with relish. “I’d like to play another monster, I really would, a layered monster, and if he wasn’t layered on the page I’d find a way to make him so, filling in lines with pauses and attitude that any good actor knows how to do.”
An ankle injury Thomson sustained at 22 resurfaced five years ago, which meant he couldn’t work for a long period of time. The two original Steven Carringtons, Al Corley, and Jack Coleman, beseeched Thomson to go to an orthopedic surgeon, “and so now I have a new ankle. I’m not limping any more, but I don’t move as easily as I used to. I can’t run. Stairs are difficult.”
Aging is a bitch, because he is constantly reminded of how attractive and desirable he was because of fans’ passionate nostalgia for the show. “They want you to autograph something with you aged 40. That was me then, and this is me now. You’re haunted by what you used to look like. It’s very strange.”
Does one make peace with it? “I don’t think can make peace with it,” says Thomson. “You’re around it all the time.”
Thomson stoutly insists, however, that while he may not be the young, handsome actor he was back then, he’s not bad looking now. He notes that John James’ hair is thinner than it was, “and he was the best-looking man on TV at that time.” Thomson compares James’ title card at the beginning of the show (“nothing going on behind the eyes”) with Adam’s shit-eating grin as a champagne bottle’s cork pops off.
Thomson laughs as he recalls one Australian interviewer noting how different he looked to his 40-year-old self. “I mean, you give me a hairdresser and a bottle of dye and we’ll do it again if you like,” he says.
He insists he is not lonely. “I’m a lucky man. Luck, good or ill, is the lodestar of every life and good luck is the rarest thing in my business, and I got lucky for a while and I’m still lucky to a degree,” he says.
What was the magic of Dynasty, does Thomson think? He says he was once told, on that trip to Norway, “by my first socialist journalist, ‘Mr. Thomson, your show is so immoral.’
“I said, ‘Excuse me, do you like holidays?’
“She said, ‘Well yes, anyone likes holidays.’
“‘That’s all we supply: an hour’s holiday every week,’ I said to her. That was good, quick thinking on my feet. You couldn’t afford to go to Capri but you turned the TV on and watched Dynasty for an hour, and that’s what it was and that’s who we were.”
Our conversation meanders pleasantly on for a while, about the Bloomsbury Set (Thomson is reading Bill Goldstein’s acclaimed, just-published The World Broke In Two: T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and the Year That Changed Literature). I ask if Thomson is alright, imagining what a big deal it must have been for him to come out, and be as open as he has been.
Thomson says he is fine. “I’m going to have a cup of tea,” he announces. “I’ve had a very good time. Unexpected.” He pauses again, and adds softly, “Unexpected.”
Dynasty: The Complete Series, a 57 DVD-set with many extras like interviews with Al Corley and Pamela Sue Martin, is released by Paramount Home Video on Oct. 10. Dynasty begins on the CW, Wednesday Oct. 11 at 9 p.m.