GL: You’re far more known for your serious roles. How did you get involved in the “Modern Family” episode?
CP: Well they called me, Ed O’Neill, who I know, and he spoke to the producers and they were looking for a guy to play a gay guy that wasn’t overtly gay… I loved that I said because not every gay man is effeminate like people think. I didn’t want to play effeminate because I just thought it was a stereotype, you know? ... So I said great. I said but we have this thing where we’re not sure he’s gay, but is he gay? But he’s not—but is he? I said we can have a running gag with that throughout the whole piece and it might be funny. They liked that idea, and it was just great.
GL: It worked fantastically, and it was the ambiguity—
CP: The ambiguity that made it so great. And then he went: “Hey where’d you get that haircut? Hey I like that…” You know what I mean? I always wanted to play a gay guy who wasn’t overtly gay, because I knew those guys from my neighborhood in the Bronx. A couple of guys were gay and when I heard I was like, “He’s gay? No kidding!” I didn’t know he was gay because he was a tough guy. The guy was a legitimate tough guy and I couldn’t get over it, and I always found that fascinating. So when I see a movie or something when they play someone who’s overtly gay, I go: Play it more real, you know? Be honest... I did an episode of “The Fanelli Boys” years ago and I play this guy—not a similar character but he was on the football team, he was a tough guy and he was gay… I just knew when you play against that and you play it real, it can be very, very funny.
GL: Is there any chance that character will make a reappearance at some point?
CP: I would love to. And we talked about it and they said if they could, they’ll find a way they could bring him back. But you know I would love to go back and do it because I would love to do that character… I thought it’s a very well-written show. … I love comedy, but I get cast in a lot of these heavy roles, which is fine too. But I love when I get the chance to do comedy. …I’ve done a lot of movies—55 or 60 movies—but I did that “Married with Children” and just everybody saw it and everybody loves it and I like that, you know? I like that.
DETAILS: Chazz: A Bronx Original.1415 Aliceanna St. 410.522.5511. ChazzBronxOriginal.com. Check back with Gay Life for a Dining Out review!