On NBC’s Silence of The Lambs prequel Hannibal, which airs Thursdays at 10 p.m., Scott Thompson plays a forensic investigator who says creepy things like “supplication is the most common form of prayer,” while standing over a gutted cadaver. Thompson is best known, of course, as a troupe member of the Canadian cult sketch-comedy show The Kids in the Hall, which ran on HBO from 1989 to 1995. Portraying characters like Buddy Cole, the lisping gay bar owner, Thompson wasn’t just the only gay guy in the village, he was one of the first gay men out on television, period. And what a cool gay he was. Vulture met Thompson for a coffee and spoke to him about Anthony Hopkins’s Hannibal, Kids memories, and why being a gay man today is sort of boring.
With Anthony Hopkins’s Lecter, you could imagine him being a psychiatrist one would go to. But Mads Mikkelsen's is like Nosferatu crossed with a Nazi; I like him on the show, but he’s such a creep, no one would ever see him as a shrink. I think he’s amazing, better than Hopkins.
Well, Hopkins became so ingrained in popular culture: “I can smell your cunt.” You’re not talking to me? Because I douched today.
How did you get involved with the show? I auditioned! I was thinking my career is over. After Kids in the Hall and The Larry Sanders Show, I got stereotyped and couldn’t do anything but the boring gay character and I didn’t want to do that. And then the world changed. It drastically changed. It’s bewildering to me. It’s breathtaking.
Growing up, you were really the only gay man I saw on TV. Now that's not the case. It seems like there is nothing to rebel against anymore. The seediness and subculture element of being gay is receding. This whole marriage thing, I mean I understand it and I’m for it, but my heart isn’t in it. For my generation, it was just staying alive. Gay marriage never crossed my mind! Lesbians hoisted it upon us. I don’t know how a young gay guy can rebel any longer. When I was young, homosexuals were interesting and flawed. They were artists and hung out in cafés and were like Jean Genet, Gore Vidal, and James Baldwin. They were underground and shaping culture. The ones you heard about were the very gifted. The ones who were regular folks were married and in the closet and had their sex in parks. Now all the regular folks are gay and we don’t seem as interesting any longer. I guess that’s progress. I wouldn’t want to have to go back to the time where I had to hide everything.
But you never did! I didn’t, but I paid a very high price. Physical, psychic, spiritual. I’ve had a great career, but not for the last ten years. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t want to play these neutered gay guys. I’m an actor — I can play anybody. On Kids in the Hall I played everybody. But people forgot about that. The great gay parts I wasn’t allowed to have. I couldn’t be in To Wong Foo or Jeffrey. I almost got cast in As Good As It Gets and it went to Greg Kinnear and he was nominated for an Oscar. They never would have given that to a gay person. Now they would. I think. I hope.