Mario Cantone is beloved by viewers worldwide as Anthony Marentino on “Sex and the City,” but he’s revealed that many of his early efforts to establish a career on the comedy circuit were met with pushback because of his sexuality.
In an interview on the podcast “Allison Interviews” earlier this week, Cantone recalled being cut from the lineup of “The Tonight Show” in 1986 because the show’s talent coordinator worried that his brand of comedy — which included impersonations of Joan Crawford, Judy Garland and other LGBTQ icons ― wouldn’t sit well with then-host Johnny Carson.
“When [the talent coordinator] saw me, he said, ‘Oh my God, you’re amazing! We are going to shape six minutes for you,’” Cantone told podcast host Allison Kugel. “Then he looked at the video again, because he filmed it that night, and he said, ‘You know what? Your comedy has a gay edge to it and I think it’s going to make Johnny nervous, so I’m going to cancel you.’”
Carson died in 2005, about 13 years after he was succeeded on “The Tonight Show” by Jay Leno. Jimmy Fallon has hosted the late night talk show since 2014.
Watch Mario Cantone’s appearance on “Allison Interviews” below.
Cantone, who has been married to theater director Jerry Dixon since 2011, joined “Sex and the City” during the show’s third season when his character, Anthony, was introduced as a wedding planner for Charlotte York (played by Kristin Davis). He went on to appear in the original series’ remaining three seasons as well as two feature films.
Anthony plays an even more significant role in “And Just Like That…,” HBO Max’s “Sex and the City” revival, which wrapped its first season last week. In his chat with Kugel, Cantone defended the new series in spite of the criticism it has stirred among longtime viewers of the franchise.
“First of all, I think [Sarah Jessica Parker] is better than ever,” Cantone said. “She’s always been great, but she’s at the top of her game. It is magnificent what she’s doing in this.”
“Everyone has their different opinion,” he added. “Everyone’s married to this thing, married to the original. And I always go, ‘You come and write it better. You fix it.’”
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