Theater News

Harry Hamlin Goes Full Frontal

The star discusses his new memoir Full Frontal Nudity and his new reality TV series Harry Loves Lisa with wife Lisa Rinna.

Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin
(© Kristian Dowling/Picture Group)
Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin
(© Kristian Dowling/Picture Group)

Harry Hamlin has succeeded in all aspects of the entertainment business over the past 30 years, from his work in Clash of the Titans and Making Love, to starring in the hit TV series L.A. Law, and appearing on Broadway in such shows as Summer and Smoke and Chicago.
And, oh yeah, he was once even named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” This month, he adds two new accomplishments to his resume. On October 5, he will release his first memoir, Full Frontal Nudity: The Making of an Accidental Actor, and will begin a series of book signings with his wife, actress and author Lisa Rinna, including stops at nd Book Revue in Huntington, Long Island (October 4) and Borders Columbus Circle (October 5) a. Then, on October 6, Hamlin and Rinna will launch their new reality show Harry Loves Lisa on TVLand. Hamlin recently gave TheaterMania an inside look at these projects.

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.