A weekend of ask alan

Sunday 18 Jul 10

Lucas from LA has something to confess:  i must confess that im looking forward to see Burlesque in theaters.I realy like your acting skills and you do a fabulous performance in every movie i believe you did it with burlesque again :) , I was wondering about the soundtracks because i heard that there will be only twelve songs is it impossible? And do you have any favourite songs from christina from the movie?? Well Lucas, I too am looking forward to Burlesque. I saw a few of the big numbers being shot and they sounded and looked really amazing. I don't know about the soundtrack in terms of numbers of songs, and I am sure that since the film is still being edited there will not be a final list available yet. But I do remember a crazy good power ballad that Christina sings in the middle of the film that will rock your socks off. Now say five Hail Marys and be  good boy.

Linda asks:  Ever have your portrait painted?  Ever wanted to? I have had my portrait painted a few times and I really like it.  I especially like when you don't have to be totally still and can chat, then it is sort of a like a fun therapy session and the artist is your shrink!  Most recently my friend David Remfry has done a few of me, one of which was hung in the Royal Academy's summer exhibition a couple of years ago.  He has also done Honey and Leon several times too. And then my friend Grant Collier did one a while back (infact these pictures are from a shoot that he took to use as source materil for the portrait in 2000. ps smoking is bad, okay?), and a long time ago in the early nineties my friend Gerard Morris from Glasgow first did a portrait of me. Come to think of I have been painted or drawn by quite a lot of people, and also my husband Grant is an illustrator so there are always pictures of me appearing in my bags or stuck to the bathroom mirror. 

Molly asks: After a friend and I spent a while trying (and failing) to imitate your lovely Scottish accent, I was wondering- do you ever have trouble mastering accents or dialects for certain roles? If so, which ones, and what helped you overcome it?  I certainly do have trouble sometimes! But I just practice, listen to tapes and sometimes I work with a dialect coach if the accent is really unfamiliar to me. At drama school we studied phonetics a bit and so I still have that tucked away in my brain somewhere and it comes in handy sometimes. I think also that because I am Scottish and was told from my first day at drama school that it was imperative for me to be able to lose my accent and do a standard English one if I ever wanted to work, I have a more inquisitive and attuned ear!  How ironic that I make my living mostly by playing Americans these days.

From Marilyn: PLEASE...more photos of you doing yoga poses in your underwear.  It fuels my fantasies and gives me very pleasant dreams. I think you are the most talented, gorgeous man I have ever seen and I loved you in The Anniversary Party. Marilyn, I am blushing.  And you need to get our more! But I will see what I can do about the yoga and the underwear combo. It mohgt have to be swimming trunks and underwater yoga.

Jane asks: which five people (alive or otherwise!) would you invite to dinner, and why?  I answered this very question for a press thing a while back and have been trying to find it online today with little success. I can't actually remember who I said so I am rather curious to find out.  I think it was for Visit Scotland or the National Library of Scotland, but I could be wrong.  I will have another dig and get back to you.

From Mimi: Not a question but an apology for interrupting your show at Feinsteins Sat. before last. Seems the Gray Goose got the best of me, You were fantastic and made our trip to New York a memorable one. Thanks so much! Thank you Mimi. You were actualy really good value and gave me a lot of material.  No worries.

Cara asks: hey Alan, what do you do to relax? I come to my house in the country, where I am right now.  I am looking at rolling hills, I slip into the pool and have a sedate swim occasionally, I watch my dog rush down into the meadow and chase away deer.  Later I am going to cook our dinner over the fire pit. That sort of thing.

Alan, am i hallucinating, or do you only have one dimple...on your face that is. I think I have two but sometimes the less big one doesn;t show. Maybe I don't smile hard enough or maybe I am not fat enough.  I think it appears less and less these days.  But the first one is an ample sufficiency I think, don't you? Oh look, I think there are two in this picture with Marc from the Castro last weekend!

Gerald writes: I am so amazed and thrilled at your participation with Intact America and NORM UK.  If only more celebs could follow.  Have you visited the website  circumstitions.com?  I get so sad/mad when I hear of this being done to babies or teens - a bit like the twilight zone.  Thanks again, best wishes, and cheers. Gerald, thanks for writing. I didn't know about circumstitions.com, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention. There are some scary statistics on it.  It's great to find more and more places around the world where people are questioning why we do this to our children, and also especially in Africa where the whole idea that circumcision is neccesary to combat HIV is being undermined and re-examined.

I read you do not add people on facebook and I understand why. But if you ever start to, lol... It's not actually me on facebook, I am afraid.  Just someone still pretending to be me so I am sorry if I haven't friended you or whatever it is.

Louis writes: I had the privilege of seeing your delightful show last night in San Francisco, Mr. Cumming. It struck me early on that what made it so charming -- in addition to the excellent material and the expertise and sophistication of you and your colleagues -- was the boyish enthusiasm you displayed. I have some questions, all of which (happen to?) come around to authenticity, which seems so central to the success of the act.  This may be the least interesting: How much of the anecdotal material is literally true? How much license do you take? Set aside obvious facetiousness. I, for one, wouldn't expect the dialogue you quote to be verbatim. But I ask because in recounting one of your wonderful stories (sorry: which one slips my mind at the moment), something struck me as implausible.  It's all true, Louis.  Some of them are indeed implausible but that's why I tell them!  Everything I talk about on stage actually happened Maybe the hardest (and stupidest) question is: Since you're an actor, and a good one at that, is there any particular reason for an audience member to believe that your authenticity is genuine? I'm quite happy to believe that it is, mind you. Why thank you. Since I begin the evening by pointing out that it took me a while to summon up the courage to do the show precisely because there is no characater to hide behind, and that I am being myself, open and truthful, I would hope that the audience would believe me. I think people can discern between a perfomance and a person. Obviously I tell some of these stories again and again, and that is where my skill as a performer comes in to make them seem fresh each night, but then everyone tells their funny stories repeatedly and you don't question their authenticity, do you?  Maybe you do.  And here's the one I'm most interested in: Why do you choose to retain your brogue in so many of the songs, and specifically in the one from Cabaret? I ask because it distracted me in that one, with the German words and all. I'm secure in presuming this is a choice, since the U.K. rockers always struck me as pretty good at imitating old black guys from Mississippi, and I don't suppose they've done the dialect work you have. Again, I am singing the songs as me, not as a character, and as I point out when I sing the Hedwig medley I have never had a sex change operation but I can still feel Hedwig's pain!  The whole evening for me is about stripping away the normal layers of character, accent and other attributes of my work as an actor and connecting with the audience as Alan Cumming the person.

I saw you 7/10 at the Castro Theater. It was a wonderful cabaret experience. My question is when did you know you wanted to sing as a child, and do you think anyone can learn to sing (well)? I asked Sam Harris this question, and his answer was that his father was a high school music teacher and he always had music in his home as a child. Is this true for you also?  I suppose I always wanted to sing.  I always did as a child, just as I do now. I sing as I walk along the street, everywhere.  But the kind of singing I do in my show is more about a desire to connect through a song and intrepet songs by being myself.  I think the singing I wanted to do as a child was more about showing off. There was nobody in my family who was a musician so I didn't have a role model in the way Sam did.  I think of singing and acting as kind of the same thing and I have come to be as confident at singing as I am with acting rather late in life! Isn't ths a spooky picture btw?  It looks like Lance is a ghost!

Does it ever bother you to know that you have younger women (20's) that are huge fangirls? Why ever would that bother me?! Bring it on!

I just wanted to let you know that I will never eat another rubbery shrimp again without thinking of YOU!  Thank you for a Great Evening.   love Ili B.  I am sure there is some relevance to this from one of my stories but right now it escapes me.  Or maybe there isn't. Either way, thanks. Love from shrimpy.

Have you ever done any movies where you kiss a guy? Not like the little pecks in Cabaret, I mean really kiss; like smooch.  I want to say duh, but I don't mean to be rude! I just did in The Runaway, I did in Ghost Writer, The L Word, oh lots of times. Other times onstage I have done too. I made out with Dominic West in Design For Living, and lots of boys in The Threepenny Opera.  I'm an old pro at kissing boys.



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