Article 117

Richard Chamberlain I Lived In Fear I'd Be Outed

The 1960s heartthrob and Hustle guest star on why he kept his sexuality a secret for so long

Why fly halfway across the world from your home in Hawaii to do an episode of Hustle?

I'm an avid watcher of British TV and loved the script, so I hopped on a plane. I lived in Britain for four years after Dr. Kildare finished in 1966, so it was great to be back.

Who do you play in Hustle?

I'm James Whittaker Wright III, an American who needs the gang's help to scam financiers and a bank for millions because they conned my grandfather out of his money.

Did you enjoy working on Hustle?

Oh my God, it was wonderful - Jamie Murray, who plays Stacie, is possibly the most attractive woman in the world! And I'd worked with Robert Vaughn, who plays Albert, on two films - 1974's The Towering Inferno and 1970's Julius Caesar - so we got chance to sit down and chat. He had a lot of stories.

Your 1984 hit, The Thorn Birds, was watched by 130 million viewers worldwide. Why was it so popular?

It was a wonderful love story and I'm thrilled it had the impact it did.

In your 2003 biography, Shattered Love, you admitted you're gay. Why did you keep it a secret so long?

I grew up at a time when being gay was considered the worst thing you could possibly be. I remember making a pact with myself that I would never reveal this secret. I lived in fear I'd be outed.

So what made you decide to come out at the age of 69?

I had no intention of coming out. But as I was writing, something happened and I suddenly realised how unimportant it was. I've no regrets, and I've had nothing but support from people, which is wonderful. I've been with my producer partner, Martin Rabbett, for nearly 30 years.

You're 72 on 31 March and look so young. Would you ever consider plastic surgery?

Well, I haven't yet! I don't think I would as it makes people look false. I'll get more roles as an actor if I keep looking natural. If I still look young it's down to good genes, exercise and being happy.