“Blunt Talk” won’t forget about Gisele (Trace Lysette), the transgender prostitute Walter Blunt (Patrick Stewart) meets in the opening sequence of the series premiere. She’ll be back again in Season 1, but viewers will need to wait until episode 5.
Creator Jonathan Ames was aware when creating the character of Gisele that there was a risk of depicting her poorly. He’s long been invested in the trans experience, having edited an anthology of memoirs of trans people called “Sexual Metamorphosis,” and was careful in Gisele’s portrayal.
“I was very conscious of wanting to make sure this was handled well, to not exploit the character, but these things do happen,” Ames tells Zap2it. “It was a chance to show Walter Blunt’s tenderness and kindliness and open-mindedness.”
Stewart was initially concerned about Gisele’s representation, because he wanted to make sure “it should not seem opportunistic or in any way demeaning or undermining of transgender people.”
“There was a time when I would have been to inclined to say ‘let’s not go that direction,’ but Jonathan was so sure about it and so sure-footed in the way that he was writing it,” Stewart says.
It helped that Lysette and Ames were friends from their time in New York. Ames admits he didn’t even know she was acting until her audition for Gisele arrived.
“She is transgender and I talked to her about the part and she felt good about it and she was OK with it. I felt like by her being OK with it that this would carry over and people would feel that this was a fair presentation of something that might happen,” Ames says. “Ultimately it’s a bit of a love scene.”
“She was incredible,” Stewart says of working with Lysette. “She improvised a lot. We all kind of like to do that, but we usually wait until it’s the last day. Trace was introducing personal stuff as well, which was wonderful. It gave such an authentic feeling to all that. I hope we have pulled off something that is respectful, tasteful, doesn’t mock or make fun or anything, and that it will be seen as a positive action.”
This isn’t a short term role, either. Beyond returning in Season 1, Stewart reveals Ames intends for Gisele to remain a character in the already-announced Season 2. “That will be fabulous,” Stewart says.
“Blunt Talk” airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.