"Oh, my God. That's Uncle Jesse," Michele's friend says in a muffled voice.
The dark-haired star achieved heartthrob status while developing his comedy chops on the decidedly lowbrow "Full House," a hit sitcom that ran for eight seasons in the late '80s and early '90s — and continues its wholesome influence in syndication. Stamos has been trying to shake this alter ego ever since.
Along the way, there have been several highlights in his wide-ranging career: performing with the Beach Boys; stints on
But there have been more than a few low points in
his work and personal life: Several series developed around him that
came and went quickly; a high-profile divorce from
The highs and lows have positioned Stamos, 47, in what he calls "the middle."
"For all intents and purposes I should have been long gone by now; a lot of my contemporaries are," he said days before at his
"I've been comfortably at the low part of the middle for a long time. I'd like to say that it's strategy, but ... it's just good timing."
The clock is on his side these days.
His heartthrob persona was tweaked in the latest season of "Entourage," where he played a stylized version of himself — a self-indulgent pingpong enthusiast (he trained for weeks, only to have the ball digitally inserted) cast to play Johnny Drama's brother in a TV series. "You spend your career playing a nice guy and one spot on 'Entourage' can totally burst the bubble. People see it and go, 'I knew he was a jerk.'"
He's following that up with a stint on "Glee" — a "golden ticket" for any actor, he said.
"It's the time of the disposable celebrity, almost," Stamos said. "There are so many celebrities and actors out there. People are begging to get into television; movie stars who used to cringe at the thought of doing TV are all about it now. So to still be in the game ... I guess I'm a survivor."
His entry into the glossy, upbeat world of Fox's
critical darling has a certain irony, considering that last season,
McKinley High guidance counselor
"I was like, 'Those bastards!,'" Stamos recalled. "I remember I called the head of the studio. I was so mad. And I boycotted the show ... yeah, I was the only one in the world that boycotted 'Glee.' Me, the guy who's on the show now."
Now, Stamos says he is set to appear in 10 episodes as
"I love John because I think he's a mixture of
darkness and great sweetness, and that's the role we are writing for
him on 'Glee,'" Murphy said. "I have always been knocked out by his
The awestruck frenzy that surrounds him is miniscule, Stamos said, compared to the hysteria surrounding the plucky young actors of "Glee," now part of the overzealous publicity machine that comes with starring in a hit series. He ruminated about the days when he was just starting out, days before 24-7 tabloid scrutiny was synonymous with fame.
"Things were so different back then," he said. "We could go anywhere, and we could do anything. There were screaming girls and that kind of stuff, but there weren't a million cameras. We didn't even know what the word 'paparazzi' meant. These kids now can't live their life."
In recent years, the actor has been struggling to free himself from dwelling too heavily on his youth.
"Look, I've gone into adulthood kicking and screaming," he said. "It's taking me years to get focused. Learning doesn't come easy."
And the lessons for the actor keep coming.
Earlier this summer, a
"The extortion thing ... it was horrific," he said. "I was made to feel feelings that I've never felt. I knew it wasn't gonna be pretty, but I didn't know it was going to be that ugly. There was just something shady going on. It's so maddening 'cause you're sitting in the courtroom and you're going, 'Come on, where are you getting that from?' It was like I woke in the middle of a nightmare."
Stamos said the experience has led him to be more introspective ... and more careful in how he poses in photos with friends and fans.
"I know every actor says this, but I really do just want to do good work," Stamos said. "I want to work with good people. And that's what I'm working toward these days. It's a fascinating thing to be in the middle."
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