Article 125

Richard Chamberlain Returns To TV

The handsome heartthrob who stole viewers' hearts as "Dr. Kildare" and the lovelorn Father Ralph from the 1983 miniseries, "The Thorn Birds," is returning to TV this fall in a taboo-shattering new role.

"This is the first gay character I've played on TV," Richard Chamberlain says from the set of "Nip/Tuck." "I only have one scene in the show, but it's a really good scene."

After more than 40 years playing heroes and dashing romantic leads, Richard, 72, is excited about his new part as a controlling, slightly predatory, gay businessman on FX's hit drama about two Miami Beach plastic surgeons.

"To be on the other side of the scalpel is fun," said Richard. "Leading men are great but the parameters of leading men are rather narrow. You've got to end up being the good guy, you've got to get the girl. It's a little bit narrow. When you're doing character stuff you can go crazy and that's fun."

In the episode coming this fall, Richard plays a successful older man who takes up with a much younger boyfriend that he wants to make over. So he takes him to meet with "Nip/Tuck" docs Sean (Dylan Walsh) and Christian (Julian McMahon).

"He wants to make him over kind of in his own image and he's on a power trip," he explains about his character. "He gives him Porsches and Gucci clothes and a new look. He takes him in to fix his nose a little bit, fix his chin and it's not a healthy relationship. It's a kind of an ownership relationship."

After decades of hiding his own homosexuality, the star of "Shogun" came out in his 2003 memoir, Shattered Love.

"It was the big painful secret of my life and I couldn't talk about it when I was playing leading men and all that," he says. "I thought I was a bad person because of it and suddenly that absolutely disappeared. Two months later, I was on television talking about being gay with total freedom because I wasn't afraid of it anymore and didn't feel bad about it."

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