Jonathan Del Arco Talks His Role On ‘The Crazy Ones’ And The Out Actor Life

by | April 8, 2014 at 11:35 AM | LGBT, Major Crimes, The Crazy Ones

Robin Williams, Jonathan Del Arco & Brad Garrett (CBS)

If you’re a regular viewer of CBS’s sitcom, “The Crazy Ones,you know that Gordon (played by Brad Garrett) has mentioned his husband, Timothy, several times but in this week’s new episode, we finally get to meet him.

Jonathan Del Arco, who works the slightly darker side of things over at TNT’s hit crime drama, “Major Crimes,” steps into the role this week when the couple breaks up and we see how it not only affects Gordon but also how business partner Simon (Robin Williams) reacts to the breakup. Not surprisingly, the episode is entitled ‘Love Sucks.’

The episode also boasts the reunion of series star Williams with Pam Dawber, who he starred with over 30 years ago in the classic ABC sitcom, “Mork & Mindy.

Del Arco talked to me about being a part of the freshman sitcom and also teased what he thought of the coming out story told on “Major Crimes” last season.

Was it nice to kind of flex those comedic muscles a little more than you get to on ‘Major Crimes?’

Jonathan Del Arco: Oh my God, you know I get to be funny on ‘Major Crimes’ but it’s usually around a dead body so that was a nice change. It was awesome. You know, I started out in comedy back in my 20s. So, it was really fun to be on a comic set because the vibe is completely different. To get to work with Robin was just a childhood dream come true. I mean I went up to him and I honestly said to him, “I learned English watching ‘Mork & Mindy.’ It was totally true. I didn’t speak English until I was 10. And I watch ‘Happy Days’ and I would watch ‘Mork and Mindy’ and that’s really how I learned English. He was so amazing and, obviously, he’s funny and he just kept everyone laughing all day. He’s just one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with. It’s so great to have a childhood hero kind of live up to that. Yeah, I had a blast. I had a really, really great time.

And did you ever imagine you’d play the husband to Brad Garrett?!

JDA: Can you imagine? I need a step ladder. [laughs] He’s awesome. ‘[Everybody Loves] Raymond’ was another one of my favorite shows as an adult but he’s so brilliant and so, so funny. I only have one scene with him but my character has been sort of developed off-camera so I’m walking into something that everyone already knows. By the way, I can’t give away what the scene is but it’s hilarious. Brad is the center of the hilarity, for sure.

So we know there’s a bit of tension between Gordon and Timothy…

JDA: I won’t tell you exactly what happened to our relationship but we’ve been together for many, many years and we are at a crossroads in the relationship where we’re trying to figure out what comes next. There’s a bit of an age difference between the two of them. They’ve had this long love affair and great relationship that’s been kind of the model for which other people see their own relationships…it’s a really great episode on the point of relationships and what it takes really to have a long-term one, whether you’re gay or straight is sort of the irrelevant issue in terms of the sexuality. But just being able to stay with someone a long time and the changes you go through in the middle of that.

The only sort of bummer was that I actually had to be in a very emotional state the whole day. Even when I’m doing a comedy, if that’s what’s required of me, I kind of stay in that state. So as much fun as I was having I was still kind of hurting. So, it was kind of a weird rainy day in LA where I was sitting in my trailer listening to sad songs.

And Pam Dawber is in the episode, too. Did you get to have scenes with her as well?

JDA: I think that would have blown my head off! But we kind of passed each other in terms of her scene before mine that day. We didn’t really have anything together but she’ll be on the same episode if that counts.

That totally counts! And we’re at a nice time where having gay characters is just not a big deal anymore. What do you make of that progress over the last five, 10, 20 years?

JDA: Well, you are talking to someone who has lived through it all in terms of that. I’ve been out for a very long time… [but] even something like ‘Will & Grace,’ that was a huge hit and made all these cultural moves forward with the Jack character and Will character. They kind of played into a lot of the stereotypes in a funny way and made it accessible. I think just a lot of the roles I would go out for as a guest star actor would be the really funny gay guy who was over the top and in colorful clothes and kind of clownish and hyper this or that. I feel like writers and producers are moving completely away from that to a much more realistic version.

Was there ever a time maybe in the early years after you had been out that you thought maybe you shouldn’t have just because the roles weren’t coming your way. Do you feel it held you back at all?

JDA: I talked about this in a speech I gave at HRC actually. In my 20s when I was sort of a young leading man I was very closet(y) and I sort of towed the line. I wouldn’t lie about who I was and I wouldn’t take girls to an event and pretend she was my girlfriend but I wouldn’t answer the question if I was gay or not. But I also wasn’t really fully open. So that was my barometer. What had been happening is I shot myself in the foot because I stopped going to all these events and stopped socializing, which is a really big part of meeting people in Hollywood and getting jobs in Hollywood. So kind of being in the closet was really detrimental to me. It was kind of the opposite of that. It was being in the closet was detrimental part and coming out was really the more helpful part because it opened up all these doors for me to be able to play really good roles. So it was kind of the opposite effect in a way, that my being in the closet was really more hurtful than being out.

Del Arco in TNT's 'Major Crimes' (TNT)

What do you make of actors who are still not coming out?

JDA: It’s such a personal journey. It’s such a personal, complex journey and none of us can really know. I think it’s disappointing when they don’t. That’s my opinion on it. I think it’s really disappointing and I’m disappointed more for them because they’re not getting to live their true selves and they’re not getting to really enjoy their lives because there are certain perks that come with being a successful actor that are really fun…now, I do think if you’re a hot, young leading person I do think it does present some obstacles still in terms of people giving you a shot to play that as a straight person. We’re never going to find out until those hot, young people keep coming out.

For a character actor like myself, which I fully am now, it’s a total plus. I was thinking about the interview and wondering if you were going ask me, ‘are you worried about being pigeonholed’ and whatever. It’s like, no. I mean honestly, the gay characters that are being written right now are so complex and so much fun that straight people want to play them. It’s not the way it used to be. They’re not as limiting.

I followed the Rusty story on ‘Major Crimes’ quite a bit last year as he was coming out. What I was hearing from a lot of people and I can’t say I disagree is that the story was really drawn out, a slow burn but maybe too slow. What’s your opinion on that if you can give it on that story?

JDA: Listen, when you’re a writer and a creator of a show and you have a brilliant actor like Graham [Patrick Martin], it is almost impossible to not want to write for him. That’s the God’s honest truth…I just think he was really fun for James [Duff, creator] to write…I do think that that storyline is not going to be as heavily influenced this season. I don’t think that’s the direction it’s going. I think that piece of it is played out but Rusty is part of a family and part of her family and really part of the family of the squad. Of course, he’s in it and he’s so good. He’s such a wonderful actor and he brings such a great element of vulnerability and a young aspect to the show. And everyone’s got opinions about yay or nay on how much do we want but I think it’s a very real thing that cops have their kids and are a part of their lives.

I mean James is a total stickler for reality, so anything he does it’s like ‘would this happen for real?’ I believe it would. But I think they threw it out throughout the season but I think it came to a pretty intense and satisfying conclusion at the end. Our numbers in the winter were way higher because I think people were tuning in to see what was going to happen. The last few episodes were really tense and amazing. Yeah, we’re all still a family.

“The Crazy Ones” airs Thursdays at 9:30pm on CBS. “Major Crimes” kicks off its new season on June 9th on TNT.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.