In 2019 we’ve been introduced to LGBTIQ characters in major films like the most recent Star Wars and Marvel’s upcoming The Eternals, but in 1982 the portrayal of a gay role ended Harry Hamlin’s film career, he says.
Following the success of Clash Of The Titans, Hamlin wanted to play an edgier role and so was drawn to the gay character in Making Love, however, he’s attributed that decision to bringing the swift end to his film career.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter Hamlin said doors shut in LA with a “resounding smash.”
Reflecting on the film now, Hamlin said it, “was too early. It was 10 years too early, I guess, and it completely ended my career. That was the last studio picture I ever did.”
“Everyone in town had turned the movie down,” says Hamlin. “Because at that time the idea of a gay world was still not accepted.” Hamlin read the script and thought, “this is exactly the kind of movie I’m looking for. I want to do something that’s relevant and cutting edge.”
Hamlin took the part – but the script was toned down considerably from the one he signed on to. A scene involving a sex act with a pay phone was cut out completely, he told The Hollywood Reporter.
Over a chicken dinner, a tradition of Hamlin’s with his romantic lead partners, Hamlin and Michael Ontkean spoke about how to approach their first on-screen kiss.
“Michael said we have to rehearse the kiss,” Hamlin recalls, a first for a studio film. Hamlin demurred, saying since it was Ontkean’s character’s first time kissing a man, they should save the moment for when cameras rolled.
Before the scene, Hamlin suggested the kiss be a “soft, only slightly open-mouth kiss.” Ontkean agreed, but when the director called action, he “put his hand behind my neck, came in and just shoved his tongue down my throat.”
While the film had modest success at the box office, Hamlin says his movie offers disappeared after the film came out – and he wouldn’t work again until 1986 in the NBC TV drama LA Law, on which he played law firm partner Michael Kuzak for eight seasons.
For years after Making Love, Marvin Davis, the late Colorado billionaire who bought the studio shortly before the movie came out, would remind Hamlin that he very nearly sold off the studio at his wife’s urging over the gay-themed film.