Dynasty—they don’t make ’em like that anymore. “They” in this case would be Aaron Spelling, Douglas S. Cramer, Esther Shapiro and Richard Shapiro, the original producers of the prime-time soap opera phenomenon. At present, Spelling is dead, and Doug Cramer prefers being an art collector. To prove Hollywood is bereft of new ideas, the Shapiros have rebooted (copied) the Dynasty series for the CW network, trying to make it contemporary with more open-mined storylines and a diverse cast. “They” should shouldn’t have bothered, according to Gordon Thomson who played the delightfully villainous Adam Carrington in the first Dynasty.
“I have had a look at the new Dynasty and I am appalled,” the veteran actor says in a fascinating feature published today on The Daily Beast. “What the fuck is the CW doing? It’s utter shit.”
The dashing 72-year-old knows what he’s talking about. Thomson, originally from Ottawa, Canada, had an impressive resume when he joined the cast of Dynasty in 1981—Jesus in Godspell, Love’s Labour’s Lost, the daytime soap Ryan’s Hope to name a few jobs. In the engrossing, candid conversation with Tim Teeman, Thomson gives insight as a closeted prime-time leading man in the ’80s, the decade when AIDS was creating widespread panic. Yes, Gordon Thomson is gay.
“Oh no. No. I wasn’t out, are you kidding?” Thomson says when questioned if he ever suggested script adjustments to make Dynasty’s gay character Steven Carrington (played first by Al Corley, then Jack Coleman) more authentic. “The show, the time, the fact I was a leading man to look at. No. No. No.”
Although the ironically homophobic Adam Carrington was supposed to be in his mid-20s, Thomson was 37 when he assumed the “Mr. Nasty” role. Being a hot, handsome leading man, who gave the vast female audience a wet fantasy when he was flaunted bare-chested onscreen in a mere towel, dictated his decision to remain closeted.
“You’re also a source of fantasy. Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi are wonderful people, but pardon me, how many audience members fantasize about fucking either one of them? Really. It had a lot to do with what you looked like, I’m afraid.
“It’s not something I’ve ever announced,” Thomson says of his sexuality. “I’m assuming that people know, and now that I’m my age that’s fine. I don’t go out of my way because it’s my generation, I think. I’m probably as homophobic as any gay man alive because of my background.”
That background included growing up with the fact homosexuality was a crime, until Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (Justin’s father) decriminalized it. However, it was then officially classified as a mental illness. Thomson was 30 when it was declassified, though he resided in the U.S. at the time and still carries the stigma within, which he describes in profoundly sad words: “And the shame, the breathtaking lack of self-esteem, has only just begun to seep out of my soul.”
Though he’s in a better place now, Thomson reveals his lacking family life constricted healthy development.
“I am OK, but what has changed about me inside is not enough, and never will be because of my background. I went to private school. My father went there. He was an absolute dishonorable cunt, not a nice man. The school has a really restrictive, all-boys atmosphere.”
With regard to acting (Thomson’s great love: “Acting was my temple, my religion.”) and Hollywood, he says film sets are still dominated by hetero dudism. And ageism, as Thomson says no one in the original Dynasty cast was approached to be part of the “abominable” CW rehash.
“Nobody over the age of 30 is in the show,” he says. “The acting is dreadful, truly dreadful. The writing is appalling. I don’t know what possessed the Shapiros to bother. Why call it Dynasty? It’s nothing to do with Dynasty at all. It’s insulting. If the afterlife exists—it doesn’t, but if it did—Aaron would be having major fits in his grave.”
After that assessment, Dynasty fans should be relieved to know the original series is being released as a 57-disc set (with all 217 episodes) by Paramount Home Video on October 10.