'And Just Like That' Star Reveals Being Gay Got Him 'Canceled' from 'Tonight Show'

Wednesday February 9, 2022

Mario Cantone, who played Anthony on "Sex and the City" and reprised the role on "And Just Like That," says he almost got on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson — only to be "canceled" for being gay, Buzzfeed reported.

Cantone related the experience during a recent appearance on the podcast "Allison Interviews," Buzzfeed said.

As Cantone told it to host Allison Kugel, fairly early in his career as a stand-up comedian, in 1986, he was booked on "The Tonight Show" in October of that year, and the talent coordinator was initially enthusiastic about the planned appearance.

"When he saw me, he said, 'Oh my god, you're amazing!'" Cantone remembered the staffer saying. "'We are going to shape six minutes for you.'"

Alas, it was not to be: The talent coordinator got cold feet after "he looked at the video again," Cantone went on to detail.

"'You know what? Your comedy has a gay edge to it,'" Cantone recounted the man telling him, "'and I think it's going to make Johnny nervous, so I'm going to cancel you.' And that's just once! That happened a lot."

Being gay also got Cantone heckled sometimes during his standup routines, Cantone recalled, telling Kugel how on one occasion he was "called a faggot from the back of the room" during a performance in Princeton, "at the Hyatt Regency, and they did nothing about it."

But, Cantone said, although he had "a straight character" in some of his routines, he never tried to pass as straight. "I was me," he said.

Cantone's "Sex and the City" character was famously paired with that of straight actor Willie Garson, who played Stanford Blatch, the gay best friend of series lead Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker). In the original show their characters started off disliking one another intensely; that chemistry morphed into love, and the second "SATC" film featured a wedding for the two.

Garson also returned as Blatch for "And Just Like That," but he died before filming of the first season's ten episodes were completed.

Cantone said he didn't know Garson was ill with cancer "until a month in, when he told me and told everybody." Until Garson became too sick to work, Cantone said, "you would have never known it," Cantone said, adding, "You unfortunately never got to see what our marriage was gonna be...It was basically two people that argue and fight, have a very turbulent relationship — yet, they can't live without each other."

When Garson died, his character was hastily — and, some fans complained, unsatisfactorily — written out.

Watch the interview below. (Cantone's story about "The Tonight Show" is at about the four-minute mark.)