In 1982, actor Harry Hamlin played a gay writer in the film Making Love and recently spoke about how doing so likely ruined his movie career.
“For years, I’d think was that the reason why I stopped getting calls?” he told People. “And finally realized that was the last time I ever did a movie for a studio. I’ve done independent films but never a studio film. I had been doing nothing but studio films and basically going out on all the castings for all the movies. That stopped completely.”
In the movie, the now-70-year-old played a writer named Bart who falls for a doctor named Zack, who is married to a woman.
Hamlin described the movie as “way ahead of its time.” The original trailer even opens with Twentieth Century-Fox announcing it “is proud to present one of the most honest and controversial films we have ever released.”
Hamlin said a lot of people advised him not to take the role.
“I think it had been offered to pretty much everybody in town and everyone had turned it down because they thought it might be damaging to their careers.”
But Hamlin’s agent encouraged him to do the film.
“He said, ‘Everyone knows you’re straight so you’re going to be okay.’ But I didn’t really pay much attention to any of that noise. I thought it was interesting and bold. I was attracted to that.”
But once he was linked at all to homosexuality, the doors stopped opening.
“If they were contemplating having me be a love interest to a young female star, the thought was, ‘How is the audience going to react?’ Even though I was straight, I think the perception at the time was that anybody who could play gay must be gay.”
Hamlin says he is still proud of the career he has since built on television, mainly starring in the series, L.A. Law.
Hamlin also expressed pride in the legacy Making Love has left.
“People come up and thank me for making the film and say they were affected by it and that it helped them come out or it helped them talk to their parents about their sexuality,” he said. “Very rarely does one have an opportunity to have that kind of effect out there in the zeitgeist.”