Cheyenne Jackson, having worked alongside the iconic Leslie Jordan in Call Me Kat and American Horror Story, speaks to us about the gut-wrenching day he found out about Jordan’s passing.
On the somber anniversary of Leslie Jordan’s sudden departure, those close to him still celebrate his infectious spirit while grappling with his absence.
This past weekend saw Jackson and numerous admirers and friends commemorating Leslie’s legacy with the unveiling of his star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.
Jackson, a talented 48-year-old Grammy and Emmy nominee, recalled his first brush with Leslie’s magic when he was just “a spirited 20-something in Idaho”, engrossed in Jordan’s Emmy-clinching role in Will & Grace. Mimicking Leslie perfectly, Jackson shared, “He’d enter and say, ‘Karen Walker, do I smell gin and regret?’ Oh, how I wished to meet him.”
The star continued, “And it wasn’t just a meeting. He turned out to be my confidante, my sobriety partner in AA sessions, my guide in the world of comedy, and yes, the mischievously funny friend everyone wishes they had.”
At the Saturday gathering, Jackson enthralled the audience with hilarious behind-the-scenes tales of their time on American Horror Story: Roanoke and Call Me Kat. However, the memory of October 24, 2022, when the cast received the tragic news of Leslie’s sudden cardiac event while en route to the set, casts a long shadow.
Recounting that fateful day, a visibly moved Jackson revealed to us, “It felt like the earth had slipped from under my feet. I was frantically calling my spouse, Jason, hoping Leslie was at his apartment, all while sitting in Warner Bros.’ hallway beside Mayim [Bialik], when we heard.”
Mayim also candidly discussed that heartrending moment, “We were all there, anxiously waiting for his signature entrance,” she conveyed in an interview with the Oscar-awarded Jennifer Hudson.
She added, reminiscing about Leslie’s larger-than-life persona, “Leslie was so much more than just his roles. Especially during the pandemic, he was there, lighting up everyone’s Instagram, connecting genuinely. He relished being accessible, being cherished.”
Following the saddening news of Leslie’s departure at 67, the Call Me Kat team took a break to mourn.
Mayim’s words echoed the sentiments of many: “Expressing our collective sorrow feels impossible. Leslie was a gem: warm-hearted, witty, sometimes mischievous but always delightful. Remembering him is to remember his countless tales, his unique quirks, and his undying passion to spread laughter.”
By December, Call Me Kat saw Phil, Leslie’s character, being sent off with a wedding in the distant Tahiti and a heartwarming tribute by the legendary Dolly Parton. January brought news of Jack McBrayer joining the team as Gideon, taking over Phil’s role in the cat café steered by Mayim’s character.
Mayim, upon the show’s cancellation, shared a heartwarming post, envisioning a fairytale end for every character, always ensuring Phil’s memory shines on. “In trying times, with a team like this, we turned the impossible into laughter-filled evenings.”
Jackson, still fondly reminiscing his time with Leslie, shared with us, “Every time I hear Dolly Parton or some cheeky limericks, I remember him. He always reminded me to find joy in everything and, yes, to sometimes consider tighter pants.”
You can catch Call Me Kat in its entirety on Max.