Many young actors work as bartenders while waiting for their acting careers to catch a big break. For stage and television star Alan Cumming, he took the opposite path.

Cumming, whose new CBS drama “Instinct” casts him as a former CIA operative helping the New York police stop a serial killer, was joined by CBS2’s Chris Wragge to answer questions from Facebook about his acting career, playing the first leading gay character in an American network television drama, and how he ended up bartending in New York City.

“I went to drama school in Scotland,” he said. “I wasn’t very good at many other things, so when people started going a bit nuts that I was good at (acting), I thought I better stick with this.”

After three decades of performances earning him a Tony award and several Emmy nominations, Cumming opened his own place in Manhattan’s East Village.

“I think about it as one of my greatest artistic achievements,” he said. “It started out as parties I would have in my dressing room after I did ‘Cabaret’ on Broadway. My dressing room became known as ‘Club Cumming’ and that’s the name of the bar.

“It was about that spirit of all sorts of different people of all ages, genders and sexualities all coming togther,” said Cumming. “There would be performance and dancing and just kindness. I put that out to the world and people came to the bar and sort of manifested it.”

Cumming’s character on “Instinct,” Dr. Dylan Reinhart, is introduced as a gifted author and university professor living a quiet life teaching psychopathic behavior before a series of violent crimes disrupt his life.

Cumming’s previous major television role was political strategist Eli Gold on the CBS drama “The Good Wife.”

“Eli was such a nutty character,” said Cumming. “What I loved about it was that eventually people were excited to see how’s he going to react to something because they knew so much stuff pissed him off. I really liked that I had a relationship with the audience that they did the work for me.

“Before you’d come on screen, they would be like ‘Oh, what’s he going to do?'” he said. “I’d never had that before.”

Based on a James Patterson novel, Cumming read up about the lead of “Instinct” working with NYPD detective Lizzie Needham — played by Bojana Novakovic — to catch a murderer that uses the doctor’s first book as a tutorial.

“It was kind of funny reading a book and thinking this could be my life, but it was such a page turner,” Cumming said. “I’ve never played a character with so many different facets, almost too many really. He’s married to this man, and he left the CIA for love, so in a way he’s going back into it – there’s some issues, there’s a lot going on.

“The spirit of it reminds me of the cop shows I used to watch when I was a little boy – slightly screwball but also a good mystery,” he said.

“Instinct” premieres on CBS on Sunday, March 18, at 8 p.m. EST/PST.

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