Cheyenne Jackson On His “Royal Pains” Role

Mark Feuerstein, Cheyenne Jackson

In this week’s Royal Pains, Hank (Mark Feuerstein0 tends to the cut hand of Sam (Cheyenne Jackson) (USA)

Cheyenne Jackson is certainly busy these days. He’s been touring the country this summer with Music from the Mad Men Era. He’s also been popping up to lend his dreaminess to other performers– like Jane Lynch at New York City’s 54 Below. Jackson also hits the big screen later this month with the Ira Sachs film Love Is Strange and has a guest starring role on tonight’s episode of USA’s Royal Pains. 

His personal life is equally hectic. He and fiance Jason Landau are tying the knot any day now and the pair enjoyed their joint bachelor party just this past weekend. (For documentation, just check out Jackson’s Instagram account)

We caught up with Jackson to find out more about his busy summer, his part on this week’s Royal Pains— and also find out if he has any pre-wedding jitters!

The Backlot: Tell us about the character you’re playing on Royal Pains.

Cheyenne Jackson: His name is Sam. He’s dedicated his life to perfumery. He lives in an olfactive world and he seemingly develops a brain condition which causes him to start to lose his sense of smell and thus his sense of self.  (My own existential take.)

Did you have a hand Sam’s appearance at all? The glasses? The hair? What did you think of it?

CJ: A bit. Mark [Feuerstein, who also directed the episode] had strong ideas as did the costume designer. We discussed glasses and it just seemed like a good idea for this guy. Although he has an innate style, he isn’t overly fussy about his appearance. I thought it was great fun.

What’s a smell that makes you smile or brings about a nice memory?

CJ: Cut grass. Reminds me of running track in high school. I ran the high hurdles. I even went to the State Championship my junior year. I love the sport because although you are competing against others, it really is an individual sport because it’s just you out there.

Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch, Cheyenne Jackson

Jackson’s busy summer included joining Jane Lynch’s show at NY’s 54 Below (as did Matthew Morrison)

Fainting on camera — piece of cake or harder than it looks. Why?

CJ: I like to do my own stunts whenever possible. I really dig stunt men and women. I’m fascinated by their dedication and that they come in, do the hard stuff [and] all while hiding their faces and making the actor look good. We had a great stuntman on set and he made sure I knew how to fall safely, but I did both falls several times on my own. It’s fun.

Tell us about working with the wonder that is Mark Feuerstein.

CJ: OK, so I’ve loved Mark for years. Truth be told, since his very colorful episode of Sex and the City. Everyone told me how kind and fun he is to work with, and it was all true and more. He’s like the energizer bunny. He also directed this episode, and it’s the first time I’ve been directed by a fellow actor so it was at first strange to be face to face with him in a scene and then for him to break character and give me a note, then continue on. Because your first instinct is, ’Am i getting a note from another actor?’ Then you remember, ’Ah, yes. He’s the director.’ He was wonderful. I’d work with him again in a New York minute.

You’ve had a busy summer performing all over the place. What’s in store for the fall?

CJ: Did Ryan Murphy’s HBO pilot Open and we find out mid-September what’s happening there. Filming two PBS specials and shooting a new film up in the Poconos. Several concerts, continuing to write a second album and getting married.

Love Is Strange cast

The Love Is Strange cast at Sundance this year:
(l-r) Screenwriter Mauricio Zacharias, John Lithgow,
Tomei, Alfred Molina, Jackson,
director/screenwriter Ira Sachs and Darren Burrows. (Getty)

Love Is Strange finally comes out later this month. Why should people see this film?

CJ: Because it’s sensitive, it’s real, and it’s beautiful. John and Alfred are perfect. [Director/Screenwriter] Ira Sachs did an extraordinary job.

If you were choosing, would you rather perform in smaller venues (The Rockwell in LA or even ArtHouse in PTown) or larger ones (Disney Hall)??

CJ: Can’t choose. Each has their own virtues.

Any wedding jitters?

CJ: Nope. So excited I can’t stand it.

Jackson with fiance Jason Landau (left)
Photo: Getty

 Royal Pains airs Tuesdays at 9pm on USA. For more on Cheyenne Jackson, follow him on Twitter or Instagram.