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Cheyenne Jackson Talks Filming Sex Scenes & LGBTQ Representation in Musical Film 'Hello Again'

Hello Again
 Courtesy of SPEAKproductions

Cheyenne Jackson (right) and Tyler Blackburn in Hello Again, out Nov. 8.

Hello Again, a film based on the musical by Michael John LaChiusa comes to theaters on Nov. 8. With an impressive cast of Broadway and television stars including Cheyenne Jackson, Audra McDonald, Martha Plimpton, T.R Knight, Rumer Willis and Jenna Ushkowitz, the flick undulates through lust-fueled affairs over the 10 decades of the 20th century.

Ahead of its release, Billboard spoke with actor Cheyenne Jackson about filming sex scenes for the film, LGBTQ representation in cinema and his character’s demise in American Horror Story: Cult. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Billboard: Had you seen the stage version of Hello Again before filming?

Jackson: No, I was one of the few people that hadn't ever heard anything or seen anything. So a little bit at a disadvantage but also, I didn't have anything in my head to confer what was on the page. And that means you really have to bring a lot of yourself.

What would you say the message of the film is?

Good question. I hadn't thought about that. I just watched the screening and the first thing that came to my mind is that it was just -- it was like a poem. It was like this dreamy, run-on sentence of love and it resonating through time. Love is fleeting. Passion is fleeting. It's often just hanging onto it. Savor it. Because, as you see at the end of every single sequence, it’s done. It's over.

You played two roles in this film. Which one was more challenging?

Technically harder was the '70s scene with Tyler Blackburn because it was just so much of us in that small, little bed. And there's people all around you and you have to hide your microphone in your ear. And you're trying to cover your crotch. We only had like two days for each of those different sequences.

This film is excellent as far as its inclusion of LGBTQ characters. Do you find it important to be attached to projects with strong queer representation?

Sure. I don't think, “Oh, I’m going to do a gay movie.” But if it is a great story and it's a great cast and it's a director I want to work with and there's a gay component... I think the visibility is paramount. And I think it's very important to see all kinds of gay relationships. Gay and lesbian and bisexual, transgender -- the whole spectrum. But, I don't search them out.

Hello Again centers on lust-fueled relationships, so naturally you filmed two sex scenes. Are those awkward to film?

It's super weird and awkward because in life, it would just be you and that other person. And not 30 other people standing around. You have to let go of your self-consciousness as much as you can. And your vanity. I can't worry about what my ass looks like in the shot -- my ass looks like what it looks like. So let's just get into character and let's just kinda really commit to what I'm singing or what I'm thinking about in this scene. In American Horror Story: Hotel, three years ago, I did my first nude scene ever at 40. So, you know, whatever.

I was going to say, this wasn't your first time filming a nude scene. You were with Lady Gaga, right? I’m assuming this was less stressful?

Yep, and no. Horror Story was very cinematic and set-up. It takes an hour to set up those shots. It's all perfectly produced, whereas a movie like this, it's pretty down and dirty. And ya gotta come up with stuff on your own. And, I mean, I've never done a graphic oral scene like the one in this movie. You have to be like, “Okay! Here we go!” The slightest trepidation, or the slightest little faltering and it just takes you out of it.

Speaking of Horror Story, I'm sad to see that your character left us on Cult. I honestly thought that you were going to be the ‘big bad’ at the end. How do you find out you were going to be killed off?

I found out when I read the script. Like, it's delivered to my house and I read through. And it's like, "Oh goodness. I have a lot of scenes in this one." It's just ongoing gags that we'd all talked about. Like how long we make it. And every year I make it a little closer [to the finale].

I'm assuming it’s too early to know if you’ll be joining the next installment?

Yeah, you just don't know. It's Ryan Murphy's universe and we all are just happy to be a part of it.

You've released three studio albums, including last year's Renaissance. Do you have any plans for a follow-up?

I haven't really sung the entire year. Since becoming a dad there have been a lot of changes in my life. I lost my dad. I haven't really wanted to sing, but I started to recently. I really missed it. I missed singing. And I really forgot how fulfilling it is. So, probably. I don't know what that would be, but I do see more recording in my future. For sure.

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