In the last ever season of Frasier, I played a yogi named Ahmrit who gives private classes to Niles and Daphne in an episode that aired in March. I'd always liked Frasier, so it was great to actually be in it. The most amazing thing about the week-long process was seeing how skilled the cast was at knowing exactly what was needed to make the script work best. They had been playing these characters for so long they just had it down. I was full of admiration for them, both for that reason and that they hadn't gone crazy playing the same people for ten years! I'd only ever done one US sitcom before, but they made me feel I was in very safe hands. The only bummer was I didn't get to shoot my scenes in front of the live audience. We had to pre-record them because David Hyde Pierce had to do yoga moves that needed a body double!
I went to LA to interview the goddess that is Halle Berry for my Eavesdropping with Alan Cumming show. We had just finished shooting X2, and that is why I look ill and drawn and fat.
I took part in Jon Favreau's discussion showDinner For Five with Isaac Mizrahi, Faizon Love and Amy Irving
The lovely Wayne Brady, the hilarious Caroline Rhea, and my first time sparring with the delightful Graham Norton. Then Conan. And giving an award away with Rachel Griffiths at the Independent Spirits
I shot two 'Painting With Light' promos for Turner Classic Movies. Here's the one for North by North West...
I was asked by Dori Berinstein if I'd like to do a talk show for the then new channel, Oxygen. I'd always loved chatting and the idea appealed to me, though I was wary of staying away from more conventional formats which I didn't think would suit me. So we came up with Eavesdropping with Alan Cumming.
The idea is that the audience would basically be voyeurs. I would meet up with someone, usually someone I alredy knew, and we would wander around together, get in a car and drive to a restaurant, and then eat. Pretty simple and not exactly ground-breaking but it actually made for some really interesting material.
On most talk shows, you are performing. I always say that when I come out and sit on the sofa I feel as though I am playing a version of myself: Alan Cumming, the chatty celebrity. I genuinely do enjoy most TV talk shows (the lack of ability for them to editorialise as well as the opportunity to counter any nonsense on the spot has a lot to do with it), but there is a format which you must adhere to: regurgitate the anecdotes you have been briefed to do per the pre-interview you have had with the show's producer. So there is a pressure to be funny and witty and brief - attributes that are usually incidental to why you are actually on the show on the first place! . Some hosts, of course, are confident and skilled enough to be spontaneous and to have a genuine conversation, but mostly it is a series of pre-arranged funny stories.
So the great thing about the Eavesdropping format, despite the fact that we were aware of being tailed by three camera teams and we had to stop occasionaly for technical reasons, was that there was no pressure to be funny or to tell anecdotes. It was quite rambly, and when it worked best, a genuine conversation between two friends.
For me the best bits are in the car. There we used two tiny cameras at either side of the front windshield (they're called lipstick cams) and although there was a cameraman out of sight in the back seat behind us, it really was the most self-conscious you could possibly get whilst being interviewed on a TV show! I think this section in the first show with Gwyneth Paltrow proves my point.
I also get Gwyneth to come off her macro-biotic diet and have french fries. Beat that, David Letterman.
Helen Mirren and I were interviewed for the NY Times Talks about the differences of performing on Broadway and the West End.
Zero Effect was a pilot made for NBC written and directed by Jake Kasdan, based on his feature film of the same name. I played Daryl Zero, the world's greatest private investigator and master of disguise.
It was never picked up, but here is a sneak peek....
I appear to have been something of a media whore in 2001.
Well, I did have Design For Living, Spy Kids, The Anniversary Party and Josie and the Pussycats all happening. Some of the shows i whored myself to were MTV's Hot Zone, The Kirsty Wark Show, E! Daily News, Access Hollywood, CNN Lifestyles, Live with Regis and Kelly, Conan, Today in NYC!
I made a video diary documentary for BBC Scotland's Ex-S series. It actually began at the end of 2000 as I was finishing up The Anniversary Party in LA, and then it focussed on my time in NYC doing Design For Living. There is a very scary sequence in which I have everything shaved for an article I wrote for Marie Claire magazine!
It's so funny to look back at things like this and see what was going on in my life in such detail. I don't feel I have changed, and I was still having fun, so hoorah!