Gene Simmons is ready to set “Castle” fans’ tongues wagging.
The legendary KISS bassist is making an appearance (sans demon makeup) on ABC’s will-they-won’t-they murder mystery series playing – what else? – himself (“I get to practice every day,” he deadpans) when Castle and Beckett head to Hollywood and encounter the rocker in his Beverly Hills backyard.
So which version of "Gene Simmons" will he be portraying, exactly? “The asshole,” he tells PopcornBiz. “No, not really –although that was the name of my solo record a few years back. I'm sort of like Popeye: I am what I am and that's all that I am. Even when I try to be serious or myself, people laugh at me, but that's my cross to bear.”
As a fan of the show, Simmons says he was eager to enter Castle’s world. “I often watch 'Castle,’” he says. “I like the repartee, I like the sexual tension. Behind our backs, I know that Castle is getting busy and I really like the tone of the show. It's got this light but serious thing to it. The scary bad guys are scary bad guys, and then the relationship between Stana and Nathan can get hot. Not since 'Moonlighting,' actually, have I seen a show like this, so I was actually quite honored to be asked to appear.”
While Simmons has specialized in playing Gene Simmons on TV and in films, he’s also dabbled in acting over the years (remember “Runaway,” ‘80s kids?) and he’d be happy to get back into a character – if only he can find the time.
“I'd love to do that, but it really just has to do with when the planets align and I have time to stick my head up and grab some air,” he says. “We have the KISS juggernaut, which is making a new album and we'll be doing 20 shows this summer only, after a two-and-a-half-year world tour. We have 'Gene Simmons: Family Jewels', now the longest running reality show of them all in season seven. Just a whole host of activities that take up the time of day. So I literally had to tear myself away from being in the studio with the guys, recording, because I wanted to do 'Castle'. I'm blessed and lucky to only do the stuff that I like. So when something like 'Castle' raises its beautiful head, I certainly want to get in there.”
A longtime comic book fan – and comic book character, with KISS’s late ‘70s appearances in Marvel’s “Howard the Duck” and their own special, printed with ink mixed with the bandmembers’ blood – Simmons remembers trying to turn a longtime favorite into a household name: writer/artist Mike Grell’s creator-owned “Jon Sable, Freelance.”
“I actually was Jon Sable for a while,” Simmons recalls of the short-lived 80s TV adaptation. “We did the pilot, myself and Rene Russo. I was Sable and Renee, in what I think was her first bit, was my sidekick. Literally I just didn't have the time to get off the tour and do a TV series. I think the series 'Sable' finally did wind up on ABC for – I don't know – four to six episodes, but without me.” Later he tried to launch the property as a big-budget motion picture. “I got the rights back and developed it for about four years. We had Pierce Brosnan and there was a script by [Steven] De Souza, who wrote 'Die Hard', and like 90% of all movies it never got made. But it would still make a great film: ‘The hunter in the concrete jungle.’ It's the right idea.”
These days, he admits, those KISS tours a little different than the early days, but he proudly claims the band’s enduring influence on modern musical concert performances. “You have to live up to the legend,” he says. “Everybody talks about the KISS live show and that nobody touches it. So when you go to see everybody from [Paul] McCartney to [Lady] Gaga and you see pyrotechnics or light trusses that move or stage shows with video screens and all of that, it doesn't come from The Archies. It only comes from one place. When you see wrestlers wrestling with pyro over their heads and big flashing lights and fog on stage, that comes from one place and if you ask Vince McMahon, that's what he'll tell you: 'I wanted wrestling and KISS.' That's why even some of the wrestlers wore makeup."
He adds with a smile: "I'm not shy about pointing any of that stuff out to anybody, by the way!”