'Dynasty' Actor Gordon Thomson Looks Back at Playing Show's Sexy, Amoral Villain

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday December 5, 2021
Originally published on December 2, 2021

Gordon Thomson
Gordon Thomson  

In a 1986 interview actor Gordon Thomson described Adam Carrington, the villainous character he played on the long-running nighttime soap "Dynasty," as "one of the truly imaginative, despicable villains on television" that Thompson "played to the hilt."

The interview went on to list more egregious behavior: "Try the following for size: Adam has raped the butler's daughter, painted poor Jeff Colby's office wall with poisonous, lead-based paint, tricked Blake into signing over power of attorney while he lay on death's door — and blew a competitor out of the water by plastering his son's homosexuality all over Denver's front pages."

Back in 1986, when asked about playing Adam, Gordon wrung his hands with glee, saying it was "wonderful" and that he "couldn't be happier."

Now some 40 years later, the out 76-year-old actor revisits Adam and his "Dynasty" experience along with two of his colleagues in "Our Dynasty: Tales From the Set," which premiered this past week at Oscar's in Palm Springs. He is joined by Jack Coleman (who played Steven Carrington) and John James (who played Jeff Colby). The Canadian-born actor came to "Dynasty" in its second season in 1982 after a career in the stage and stayed in it until it was canceled seven years later. More recently, he has appeared on the daytime drama web series "Winterthorne," and last year had a feature role as a 96-year-old man in a new film, an experience he called "wonderful."

In 2017 Gordon came out in an interview with the Daily Beast. In the interview, he addressed playing the outwardly homophobic Adam.

"I'm an actor; it was my job," Thomson says plainly. "Ask (Laurence) Olivier what it was liken playing Othello. He's not Black, and I doubt we'll see many white actors play Othello again, but Adam was a role I played. 'You don't have to be one to play one.'"

To the DB, he recalled himself and Jack Coleman hitting the bars of Sunset Boulevard. "I'm a gay man playing a homophobic asshole; he's proving he isn't gay while playing this man longing to be in love with another man. Someone should make that into the TV movie of the week."

All this, and you were in the gayest show on TV, I say. Thomson roars with laughter. "From your perspective," he says.

Asked if he would like a partner, Thomson told the DB: "No, no, no, no, no." But adds that he has "very good friends who are supportive and it's not an issue and also, thank god, I'm not 40 looking 30 anymore, I'm 72 looking 60."

EDGE spoke to Gordon about his "Dynasty" experience and returning to it for just one night.

Gordon Thomson on "Dynasty"
Gordon Thomson on "Dynasty"  

EDGE: So, first one that you tell us how did you choose acting as your career?

Gordon Thomson: I didn't choose it. It chose me. I think that's probably true for most actors of my generation. But for some reason, I decided that acting was the only job I could do. And I think I offended my brother recently by saying I could have become a second-rate alcoholic teacher of English. But, no thank you. That wouldn't be fair to the kids or fair to me. No, I chose acting because it's something that I love. God knows the unemployment rate for actors is something over 95% all the time. And those of us who have made a living at it are charter members of the fucking lucky club. That is absolutely true.

EDGE: How did you get involved with "Our Dynasty, Tales from the Set?"

Gordon Thomson: It originated with John James (who played Jeff Colby) about several a few months into this year, and he had this brainstorm that the three of us could get together and present an evening for an audience that would be our reminiscences and it grew from there.

All three of us have continued working, which is terrific. I just finished playing a 96-year-old man in a little film, which was wonderful. John just got back from Serbia, where he played Joe Biden in a movie filmed there called 'My Son Hunter." Jack Coleman (who played Steven Carrington) has been very busy; he's been working in Atlanta.

But despite being so busy, we figured out how to do it. All our rehearsals have been on the Zoom, which has been very interesting because it's very personal, very much the three of us together, as a unit. And both John and Jack can read music. I cannot. I can sing but can't read music. Jack and a musician colleague produced a song for a show, which is how we open, which is a wonderful way to start. Because I don't think anybody familiar with "Dynasty," which is an astonishing number of people, know that all have musical backgrounds. And so it's going to be a nice stretch for us to use those muscles again, and I think, will be a nice surprise for the audience because it's a damn good song.

Gordon Thomson
Gordon Thomson  

EDGE: And looking back, do the memories come easily?

Gordon Thomson: Yes and no. The memories we retain, yes. But we've all forgotten stuff. Except maybe J.J., who hasn't. He has a memory like an elephant or something.

EDGE: Looking back at the cast, what can you say about Linda Evans?

Gordon Thomson: Linda is very much the sweetest human being on Earth, and whatever she had to say, she has said already. She is like the sun coming up. If you binge-watch the show, you know what she projected. And it is all real. That's why she became one of the most beloved stars on television in the 1980s.

EDGE: And Joan Collins?

Gordon Thomson: I think people forget that Joan's a damn good actress. And if you are interested in proof of this, I would suggest watching a video of a London show she did in 1995 of a group of Noel Coward plays called "Tonight at 8:30." In one of them, she goes to town, she is unrecognizable. Anthony Newley, her ex-husband, co-starred with her, and it is refreshing to watch her do more than play Alexis. It's funny; she has said to her friend Piers Morgan that she thought John Forsythe was a misogynistic prick. No. He wasn't. He just didn't like Joan.

Gordon Thomson and Joan Collins on "Dynasty"
Gordon Thomson and Joan Collins on "Dynasty"  

EDGE: Why do you think "Dynasty" was so popular?

Gordon Thomson: Obviously, you know that the writing was not exactly Chekhovian. But what it was was was entertaining. That we all were this wonderful group of very glamorous people. Very rich and very handsome and very beautiful. All very so screwed up emotionally.

EDGE: And what is it like looking back at playing one of the sexiest and nastiest villains on prime time television?

Gordon Thomson:: What a nice thing to say! The fact that he didn't seem to have any boundaries. I worked with a wonderful actress called Lurene Tuttle, who played his grandmother in the very first scene I ever shot, which to this day remains my favorite.

What happened? He was abandoned when his family carelessly left the baby carriage outside the shop and went in to buy something. He had abandonment issues, then discovered his family is this incredibly powerful, wealthy, very grand tribe. 'And that's what I should be, and I haven't been for all this time?'

And he was blessed with intelligence, and I suspect a naturally amoral, immoral nature. Combine that with his sense of rage over his abandonment. And he was very sexy who flirted with his sister before they found out that they were siblings. That was actually a very clever piece of writing. Because whoops, that's one of the big no-no's. Most taboos have been breached since then, but I still find it creepy.

So with Adam, it was about the lack of boundaries. Nothing was beyond his behavior. He would do anything to get what he wanted it. That's why he raped Kirby Anders (Kathleen Beller). He was apparently drunk, but that didn't make it okay. He raped the butler's daughter. Rape is one of the ugliest crimes on Earth, probably worse than murder because the victims survive. But he was capable of that kind of violence. At the same time, he looked nice, had charm, and had his mother's genes times ten. I think it was one of the best part of the show. Unlike Blake, he was more of a prototypical tycoon because he wouldn't hesitate to set the dogs on anybody. He wouldn't hesitate to break someone's legs. John Forsythe, as Blake, was far more benign in that role.