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Zachary Quinto Extra: Drag Dilemmas

The star of "The Slap" and "Star Trek" remembers his most physically challenging role.

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 25: Actor Zachary Quinto of "I Am Michael" poses for a portrait at the Village at the Lift Presented by McDonald's McCafe during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Our interview with Zachary Quinto covered everything from the political dynamics at play in his miniseries “The Slap,” to receiving Tennessee Williams’ cocaine dish as a gift. But there was one anecdote listeners didn’t get to hear.


Rico Gagliano: So, here’s something I had heard about you: A friend of mine went to CMU with you, and was dressing you… [when] you were playing Mae West.

Zachary Quinto: Oh yeah!

Rico Gagliano: You were playing Mae West at Carnegie Mellon University.  And she said that — obviously you were dressing in drag — so they needed to do something about your eyebrows.  [Quinto laughs] And you didn’t want them to wax your eyebrows, because it’s kind of a major part of who you are.

Zachary Quinto: Yes…that is true! I did play a character called “Mr. Mae West” in an original play, “Mae,” written by a woman named Kathryn O’Sullivan.  And I did have to, in fact, dress in drag. And I didn’t understand at the time… You know, all these years later, I shave my eyebrows for the “Trek” movies.  Almost completely, but not quite.  But at the time, I was terrified: “What if they don’t grow back?”

Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine in "Star Trek Into Darkness."
Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine appear in “Star Trek Into Darkness.” Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

So yeah, I went through this really meticulous and uncomfortable process of, like, putting this wax in them… and like, matting them down… and then putting makeup over them… and it was kind of a frightful sight.  But that was an interesting creative experience for sure — there are photos out there somewhere.

Rico Gagliano: I’m sure. She also said that you picked out an excellent pair of red pumps for that character.

Zachary Quinto: Oh did I?

Rico Gagliano: Yeah, that they were trying to find good shoes for you, and you came back and were like, “I found them!”

Zachary Quinto: Well, I remember going to, like, shoe stores and having to, you know, try on high heeled shoes — In Pittsburgh of all places, you know?  It was like really really weird, uncomfortable [and] embarrassing to me at the time. I feel like today I’d have a little bit more fun with it than I did then.

 I had fun wearing them though; I will say that was a good challenge, to like learn how to walk in high heels, that was pretty cool.  But God knows if I’ll ever have that responsibility again.

Rico Gagliano: We’ll see — you’ve got a long career ahead of you.

Zachary Quinto: Totally man. Hopefully!