MAC Cosmetics asked me to write an article for thier magazine about how to be the life and soul of the party, and they liked it so much that they asked me to make it into a little film. And so I did! My friend Ned Stresen-Reuter shot it and I think it is esential viewing for any potential partier.
Ned Stresen-Reuter shot a video for our friend David Raleigh's single I Do!
The video is full of our friends and even our dogs, and we also asked people to use footage of their weddings from Youtube.
We shot over a couple of days in August in NYC and upstate NY, and Ned and I cut it whilst on vacation on the island of Oronsay, Scotland.
My friend Ned Stresen-Reuter and I were approached by Trojan comdoms to make another film for them, this time about a new condom called, wait for it, Ecstacy! In the meeting we had about it, I mentioned that the shape of the condom was somewhat curious, and Dan from the adverising agency said 'Yes, it's shaped like a baseball bat!'. That was the beginning of a germ of an idea...
I thought something as ecstatic needed a theme with pizzazz so we wrote a 50s style musical. Lance Horne helped us write the music and the lovely Ricki Lake came along and played with me. We shot it at the Box in NYC and we all had a hoot.
I was sent a script by writer Tom Gallagher called Suffering Man's Charity in 2004 and I immediately wanted to do it.
I think I was in a bit of a funk about screenplays and movies, and the formulaic nature of them. Even those perceived as wacky still have a certain mandatory structure and tradition that I was beginning to feel very stifling. So I think that was one of the reasons I fell in love with Suffering Man's Charity. It is absolutely nuts and shifts between many genres and each time some new crazy thing happened I remember audibly gasping and marvelling about where the script was going to go.
So I directed and starred in Ghost Writer, as it came to be known. We shot it in LA in November and December 2006. It had its world premiere at the SXSW festival in Austin in March 2007. The film also stars David Boreanaz, Henry Thomas, Anne Heche, Karen Black, Jane Lynch and Carre Fisher.
Here's what Salon.com had to say about its opening...
Protean Scottish actor-director Alan Cumming has premiered his new film, an outrageous horror-comedy carefully designed to offend the entire population of the planet. Those who didn't show up missed seeing Cumming himself as a queeny, middle-aged music teacher who winds up imprisoning and torturing a young hustler played by David Boreanaz (of "Angel" and "Buffy" fame), who is wearing women's underwear and tied up with Christmas lights and duct tape (oh, and heavily medicated with sleeping pills). "Suffering Man's Charity" is just that kind of movie: It opens as if it's going to be a sad-sack gay comedy in a lesser Tennessee Williams mode. And then it goes completely insane. Even before we get to Boreanaz and the Christmas lighting, we've already had Anne Heche as a femme fatale New York editor and Karen Black (Karen Black!) as a drunken, slutty hag stumbling around in her underwear and making obscene promises to Boreanaz's rent-boy character. Later in the film, there's a significant splatter quotient, an appalling vehicular accident, a vindictive ghost and a truly horrible New York literary party. This film is all genres at once, and a few that don't yet exist. Given Cumming's far-reaching showbiz as a Shakespearean actor, kiddie-film villain (in "Garfield" and the "Spy Kids" series), novelist, indie director ("The Anniversary Party") and outspoken activist on gay issues, I have no doubt he can find a distributor for this willfully grotesque picture eventually. It's either a total disaster or a midnight movie cult hit in the making, and on first viewing I'm not sure which. As I told myself while I stumbled out into the steamy streets of Austin, for better or worse there was nothing like that at Sundance.
I have a cameo as a disgruntled ex-employer of a theme park in Florida in this movie, Full Grown Men, directed by David Munro, and I was also a co-producer.
I hitch a lift from two friends hang a reconciliation road trip, played by Matt McGrath and Judah Friedlander, and they get more than they bargained for. The movie also stars Amy Sedaris and Deborah Harry. It premiered at the Tribeca Film festival in 2006 and was released in 2007 after winning the 2007 indieWIRE: Undiscovered Gems audience award.
Sweet Land is the story of a young German woman who is sent from Scandanavia to Minnesota in 1920 as a mail order bride. The film flashes forward to the present to throw light on the love story from the past.
It was directed by my friend Ali Selim and also stars Tim Guinee, Elizabeth Reiser, Alex Kingston, Ned Beatty and Lois Smith. I love this film. I love its pace and its heart. I love that it is undefinable. It is a simple tale about love and home, something everyone can relate to, but it is also a sweeping big story about a side of America we rarely see, especially in a low-budget independent film.
I also get to play a Minnesotan farmer with nine children. That was a first!
The film was shot in Minnesota in 2004 and premiered at the Hamptons Film Festival in October 2005, going on to be screened at many film festivals across America and Europe, before being released in the US in 2006. I was one of the producers of the film, and we won a 2007 Independent Spirit Award for Best first feature. The film was included in Leonard Maltin's 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen.
For the last of my talk shows for Oxygen, Eavesdropping with Alan Cumming, I took Juianne Moore to Dumbo in Brooklyn to make chocolate at Jacques Torres' chocolate store.
I co-produced and appear in Showbusiness, which premiered at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival and was released in 2007 by Regency Pictures.
Showbusiness is directed by my friend Dori Berinstein who I previously worked with when she served on the board of The Art Party, and also when she directed me in Eavesdropping with Alan Cumming for the Oxygen network. The film follows a year in the life of Broadway, focusing on the personalities involved in four shows - Caroline or Change, Avenue Q, Wicked and Taboo.
Find out more at showbusiness-themovie.com
I interviewed the gorgeous Megan Mulally for the fourth of my series of specials Eavesdropping with Alan Cumming for the Oxygen channel in LA. We had never met before but got on like a house on fire.