Two Hot to Handle

I talked to Dancy, but Christian bailed. Paris Hilton got out, too.

A witty, old-school leading man à la David Niven and Leslie Howard, Hugh Dancy has pranced into our lives just when I need him. The scarily handsome actor who's soignéed up projects from Ella Enchanted to Elizabeth I, he now brings on the angst as Buddy—a troubled guy most often described by reviewers as "a drunken closet case"—in Evening, the all-star regret-fest based on the Susan Minotbook. (If Knocked Up seems like a John Cassavetes movie as done by the Farrelly Brothers, Evening is Jackie Collins via Merchant-Ivory.)

But about that description of Buddy: "I think that's far too narrow," said Dancy, leaning forward on his Regency suite's couch, his white shirt unbuttoned at the sleeves. "He's definitely drunk, but a closet case? No! I have no idea what his real sexual orientation is. He has no sense of his identity. All he knows is what he doesn't want to be, which is everything his background represents, and he knows what he wishes he could be, as embodied by the Patrick Wilson character. He's so drawn to these people not because he wants to sleep with them, but because he wants to be them." "Oh," I chirped, "that must be why I kiss so many guys. Because I want to be them." "It's an easy way of explaining away anything," agreed Dancy, laughing so adorably.

As for his own bad self, Dancy said that recent gossip making him bisexual—which sounded suspiciously like the movie itself—"was not even truth imitating art, it was fiction imitating art." I told him about the "Gay or European?" song in Legally Blonde and said Dancy's probably just European. Again, he politely giggled as I prayed I was wrong.

"It still doesn't make a lot of sense to me," he said, looking at the Evening poster on the wall with names like Danes (his lady love), Redgrave, and Streep. "It seems a little unlikely—my name in there. I feel like it could be blotted right out!" And how does he feel when he looks at the poster for the immortal Basic Instinct II? "Resigned," he said, half wincing.

More triumphantly, Dancy just wrapped up the Broadway revival of Journey's End, in which he was pretty much another drunk with a secret. The show was dark in every way. "It was delightful not being able to see the audience," admitted Dancy. "There's a story about an old Irish actor who was finally convinced he should try contact lenses and stop bumping into the furniture. He came offstage and said, 'This is horrific. I can see them!' "

But I can still see Dancy as the new Niven. Is he? Dancy begged off, saying he leaves comparisons to others, but "eventually, you're the 'new' so many different people you don't even get to be yourself—and then before you get to do so, somebody else is the new you. It's a very small sliver of opportunity to actually be yourself before somebody else takes over the role." Well, it's nice to be around to watch Hugh be Hugh for you and me.

Another British hottie gets down in Rescue Dawn, a real-life POW escape story with Christian Bale mussing his lip gloss to find freedom. Alas, reality TV has taken the sting out of formerly horrifying endeavors like being dragged through the mud and eating piles of maggots. But Bale is always fun to watch as he ritualistically punishes himself for his art. (He apparently gained back the weight he lost for The Machinist only to shed it again. He's a regular Kirstie Alley.) At an uptown dinner for the movie last week, we celebrated by eating an assortment of worms—I mean, chicken with cippalline olives and Swiss chard— before moving on to a veritable "dessert symphony." But I got tragically dissed after requesting a chat with Bale. Maybe if I'd made him crawl over barbed wire.

At a less sadistic event, I was able to ask The Little Mermaid's Broadway scripter Doug Wright about complaints that the Ursula character should be a fat, old hag, not a glamour goddess like Sheri Rene Scott, who plays her. "Sheri Rene has a startling range," he said, "and runs the gamut from Jabba the Hutt to Norma Desmond. She's spectacular." So Jabba-dabba-do give her hag a chance.

If I can move back to dry land, let me note that like rats, gay bars are everywhere these days, and also like rats, they're all pretty much the same. But different neighborhoods do engender their own special ambience, so the Hell's Kitchen bo îtes turn out to be a little shinier, the West Village bars are more cutely homemade, and the East Village ones get super-real. (On Mondays, BoysRoom has fat white men ogling stripping studs of color, as MC Kenny Dash snarls at customers, "If you were any gayer, you'd fart glitter.") In the summer, any bar with a roof automatically gets extra gay points, so I've been partial to Pop Rocks, which is filled with college twinks alfresco, and the Eagle, where the roof deck allows you a break from all the shaving and shoe-licking downstairs in favor of a nice, breezy chat about water sports.

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