How Making Love In 1982 Hurt Harry Hamlin's Career

On last night's O'Reilly Factor, your basic cable destination for reasoned debate about hot-button issues in Hollywood, Bill O'Reilly invited famously closeted actor Tab Hunter and onetime onscreen homosexual Harry Hamlin to discuss the industry's post-Brokeback climate. Hamlin explained how he believes his choice to play gay in Making Love crippled his movie burgeoning movie career:

O'REILLY: [...] Mr. Hamlin says playing a gay character in the 1982 movie "Making Love" hurt him. How so, Mr. Hamlin?


HARRY HAMLIN, ACTOR: Well, it wasn't exactly painful, but after having done that film, I have not done another studio picture in 20-some odd years. Which is not to say I regret in any way having made that movie. I think it was a film that was very timely. It was about a sub culture that the media was not paying any attention to, and I was very happy to be a part of it.

O'REILLY: Now, you think the fact that you played an aggressive gay character. And before that, you of course were on "L.A. Law" and a leading man type of person. Do you think they Hollywood execs say we can't put a leading man into a romantically heterosexual guy? Do you think that's what it was?

HAMLIN: Well, I think that Hollywood today remains somewhat of a cowboy town. I was a leading man at the time — a young leading man on my way up. I think if they were casting a film and they wanted somebody to play a heterosexual male lead, they'd probably say wait a minute, that guy was just gay in that movie, and the audience is going to get confused.

Actually, LA Law didn't begin until 1986, four years after Hamlin appeared in Making Love. But while choosing to play an "aggressive gay" in that movie probably seemed like the next logical step after prancing around in a toga that showed too much thigh in Clash of the Titans, we can see how that might not have helped his career in the less-tolerant 1982 world. When a desperate, pinklisted Hamlin signed up for LA Law, he probably realized that he was sacrificing any chance as a big-screen leading man; in the mid-80s, becoming a TV star would kill your movie aspirations quicker than playing the bottom PI in Simon on Simon.