“I applaud everyone at CBS for having the courage to put that on, in the climate that might not be the best time to do it,” Cumming said at the show’s TCA winter press tour panel, describing today’s climate as one in which “the President is actively condoning, by his silence, violence and persecution against the LGBT community.”
“I think it’s the perfect time and needs to be done,” insisted Cumming, who is well known to CBS viewers from his years on The Good Wife, among other works. It’s “all that more important we should have a character with a healthy same-sex marriage,” the actor added.
Instinct executive producer Michael Rauch had kicked off the show’s TCA Q&A, also giving CBS a lot of credit for putting on the air the country’s first hour-long series with a gay lead character. The series and the character are based on James Patterson’s upcoming book. Cumming plays Dylan, a former CIA operative who has since built a different life as a gifted professor and writer, but gets pulled back into his old life when the NYPD needs his help to stop a serial killer.
The character sets the series apart from other procedurals, and “sets it apart in the world,” Rauch told the room of press who have, over the years, come down very hard on CBS for lack of diversity in its primetime programming. Their questions, therefore, were interesting and sometimes cringe-making.
Cumming got asked if the character being gay made him want to take the role. Cumming described him as a “confounding character” who has many different layers, is a fuddy-duddy professor, a dandy, a former CIA spy, “drives a motorbike,” and “he’s gay.”
“He’s also a little on the spectrum, a child musical prodigy,” Cumming said. “There’s a lot going on.”
Asked how he feels taking the first gay lead role on a TV series on CBS, Cumming said it was “one of the reasons” he wanted to do the show, clarifying it’s the first drama on American network television to have a gay lead,” which he said was great, but “also a terrible thing at the same time,” what with it being 2018.
“I’m also conscious of the fact that, most times, when we see gay characters on American television, their gayness is the prime thing,” Cumming scolded.
He described it as “refreshing” that on Instinct, his role being gay is “the fourth or fifth most interesting thing about the character.”
Asked what he brings to the character, Cumming replied simply, “I brought my genius,” and smiled his dazzling smile.
When the panel got asked to explain the backwards “N” in the Instinct title graphic, Cumming jumped in: “It’s secret code to say ‘No’ to Trump.”