Graham ― already beloved by audiences for his stints on “The Comeback,” as well as movies like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Zoolander 2” ― plays the gay, scene-stealing Bernard opposite Kim Matula as fellow flight attendant Ronnie, Dylan McDermott as Captain Dave and Amir Talai as co-pilot Alan. (Get a sneak peek at Tuesday’s episode, which sees the Jackpot Airlines crew attending a training seminar to hilarious results, in the clips above and below.)
The role of Bernard went through various incarnations before he signed on to the show, Graham told HuffPost.
“Bernard started out as a middle-aged Caucasian woman,” the actor said. “At one point, his name was Emilio, [but] when I landed in L.A. from New York to shoot the pilot, his name was Bernard.”
As to why “LA to Vegas” creator Lon Zimmet opted to change the role to suit him, Graham said he had “no idea,” but added, “I think my ability to do difficult one-liners sure does help.”
Having recently wrapped a well-received turn in the off-Broadway musical, “The View UpStairs,” Graham found Bernard to be “a well-rounded character that has some moxie,” as well as “sleek, sassy, slick, sneaky, sexy, suspicious, snarky and supportive.”
“LA to Vegas,” he said, finds much of its comedy in the longstanding fascination many people have with pilots, flight attendants and other airline crew members, like “the rush of traveling to new places and seeing new things,” as “the thought of having a possible rendezvous or tryst with the occasional passenger.”
As pleased as Graham is by his TV gig, he can’t be kept away from the stage for too long. In June, he’ll play the title role in “The Wiz” at the St. Louis Muny. The actor-singer isn’t daunted by tackling a role many still associate with André De Shields, who starred in the original 1975 Broadway production.
Calling De Shields a “dear friend and icon,” he said, “If ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it! It’s truly a personal dream role for me.”