THEATERMANIA: How did Harry Loves Lisa come about?
HARRY HAMLIN: A few years ago, Lisa and I decided we wanted to create a show together. The original idea was around the retail business that we have, because I design and build these stores. I really enjoy therapeutically doing that, and it's part of my creative process. We thought we would do a show around that, and then the economy got bad.
TM: How did that evolve into this show, which is also about your personal lives?
HH: One thing that was important is that I wanted to do a show where there's no blood on the walls, because I've heard that these reality shows that are successful are because people can't take their eyes off of a train wreck. So I said that I will not go there, but I will do a show that is contemporary and about a family that is middle class, which we are. We don't have chauffeurs and private jets and cooks. We've got kids and we've got a retail business, and we're also actors. We're also followed around by paparazzi, so that makes life a little crazy as well. It was taking the functional insanity of our lives and creating stories around that. We don't know yet whether there's an audience out there for a show about a couple of people who live in L.A. who don't drink and smoke and throw plates at each other.
TM: Speaking of reality TV, did you enjoy your stint on Dancing With Stars? And who do you have your eyes on this season?
HH: No one. Who's doing it? I don't watch reality TV -- isn't that ironic? Somebody asked me a couple weeks ago if I had ever heard of Snooki, and I said, "Who are they talking about?" I never even saw any of my shows that I did when I did Dancing. Lisa said to me once, "You know, you ought to go back and watch them because you were good." And I said, "Ahh, maybe when I'm really old and I can't walk anymore I'll watch them."
TM: In your book, you write about your early life and the crazy mishaps that filled it through the age of 26, like being accused of running a brothel. One would imagine that some of the stories in this are your most embarrassing ones. Why put them out there for the world to see?
HH: A lot of the stories I had put in a drawer. I hadn't thought about them for years because I think I fostered the notion, as all young American boys do, that at one point in my life I might make a run at the White House. Many stories would be better left untold; but I graduated from that notion. I just thought it was time to come clean. For me it was sort of a catharsis as well to go back through that time.
TM: The cover photo of your memoir is a picture of you as a young boy. Where did that come from? HH: My dad kept that picture in his wallet for over 20 years. I found it in his wallet when it was given to me after he died. It was the only photo he kept of me.
TM: What do you think people will find to be the most surprising aspect of your life?
HH: Maybe that I spent that time in jail, and that I was arrested three times. I mean, people don't think of me as a jailbird. It was not your typical time in jail too, because all this weird stuff happened.
TM: You end your memoir with you starring in a production of Equus as Alan. Have your sensibilities changed over the years? At this point in your life, would you take on a stage role in which you must perform naked every day?
HH: It was a bittersweet moment. I got my first job where I could get my Equity card, but I had to get naked to do it, so I had to be fully, frontally nude, hence the title of the book. But it was the thing that launched my acting career and it was an amazing role. Yeah, I would probably still do it today.
TM: Do you have any plans to return to New York theater?
HH: I love to do the stage work -- particularly in New York -- but I made a commitment to my two kids that I wouldn't leave town until they're grown up.
Don't show this again.