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Harry Hamlin: ‘I’m Just Getting Started ... I Don’t Think About Aging’

Actor hosts new cooking show featuring wife Lisa Rinna and famous friends, shares dream dinner guests and bucket-list roles left to play

spinner image Harry Hamlin in a black suit and tie against a blue ombre background
AARP (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)


“I’ve never seen a cooking show of any kind,” admits actor Harry Hamlin, 72, who now finds himself the star of his own culinary show, In the Kitchen With Harry Hamlin, premiering May 15 on AMC+ and IFC. He and his niece, chef Renee Guilbault, 47, host the show, and Hamlin says “we just did whatever came to mind.” That “whatever” turns out to be an informal mix of Hamlin and Guibault sharing their favorite recipes, cooking tips and secrets for successful dinner parties, all while engaging in relaxed conversations with Hamlin’s wife, actress Lisa Rinna, 60, and their celebrity friends who pop by, including Ed Begley Jr., 74, Ted Danson, 76, and Mary Steenburgen, 71. Hamlin shares with AARP how he unexpectedly ended up with a cooking show, his thoughts on aging and the one way Lisa cheats on him.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Given you’ve never seen a cooking show, did the network give you any direction?

No, we had no direction at all. When [the network] asked me to do a cooking show I said, “Excuse me? Why?” I guess one of the executives’ wives had seen me making some food for the girls on Lisa’s show [the Bravo reality show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills] and they liked it. Lisa thought it would be a good idea, and I guess happy wife, happy life. I said, “Well, if I’m going to do a cooking show, my niece is a world-class chef. She trained at Le Cordon Bleu. I will do it under one condition, and that is she can do it with me.” And they said, “OK.”

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Hamlin and wife Lisa Rinna, seen here being interviewed on the "Today" show last February, have been married for 27 years.
Nathan Congleton/Getty Images

Who taught you how to cook?

I learned it on the fly. No one taught me. I’ve never taken a class or anything like that. I’m the only cook in our family [Hamlin and Rinna have two daughters, Delilah, 25, and Amelia, 22], so if they were going to eat, it had to be me. I had to make something that tasted reasonably good so they would eat it. I was able to keep them alive.

Did your mom or dad like to cook?

My father ... was a barbecuer, and he liked to cook exotic things. I was born right after the Second World War, so the kind of food [my parents] ate was whatever they could make out of what had been rationed during the war. Every Sunday we would alternate between beef tongue and pickled beef tongue. It was like a potpourri of really weird food.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Probably a physicist named Sean Carroll. I am a huge fan of his work. He’s a theoretical physicist. I’ve been fixated with his work for years. Neil deGrasse Tyson would be another one, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. I’m science-y.

What would you cook for them?

I don’t know whether Sean or Neil are vegetarians. I’ve broken bread with Bill Nye many times. I know what he likes. I’d probably do a summer barbecue. Maybe those lamb chops in one of the [show’s] episodes. Those were amazing. Now that was Renee’s concoction — you beat the heck out of these lamb chops and then you dip them in pork lard and then you barbecue them. I thought, how disgusting that would be. But then the end product was delicious.

Disgusting like serving “Linoleum Chicken” that fell on the floor (see recipe below)?

Oh, that’s true. That was many, many years ago. (While Hamlin was checking on the chicken’s temperature, the pan overturned, dumping it on the floor.) Everybody who was at that dinner party has now passed into the “nether yonders.” They all went to their graves not knowing that I spilled that chicken on the floor.

Given that Lisa doesn’t cook, what do you two like to do together?

We spend all of our time together. Neither one of us has many friends. We hang together.

You’ve been married 27 years. What’s the secret to your success?

We like each other. And we like spending time together. We are total opposites. I think that probably is helpful. Like in particle physics, protons repel protons, and neutrons repel neutrons. But a proton and a neutron love each other. Electrons love each other. I think the secret is listening to your loved one and respecting them, supporting them and not being in competition with them. Those are all things that we think about. When we first got together, we had both been in ugly relationships before that. And we said to each other, OK, we’re just going to take this one minute at a time. Not even one day at a time, just one minute at a time, one second at a time, with no expectations about the future. That probably is one of the things that has been a leg up for us.

Do you watch TV together?

We do, but if I’m out of town, that’s the only way she cheats on me. I mean that girl can cheat on her husband like nobody’s business. We’re still watching a show, but if I’m out of town, I’ll come back and say, “Let’s get back to that show.” She’ll say, “I finished it.” We like the same kind of stuff, but there’s a certain line I don’t cross. I don’t do much reality TV. I’m not really into that. I’m pretty eclectic. I like more sci-fi stuff and action stuff, mysteries and things like that.

Do you have a bucket list of things you and Lisa still want to do, places to go?

Of course. And we will, but every time we plan big trips — if I want to go to work, all I have to do is plan a safari and I know I’m going to get a big job. Right now, I’m really enjoying the work that I’m doing on [the AMC series] Mayfair Witches. It’s probably the most fun I’ve had in years working on the show. When the kids were born, I pretty much took a 20-year hiatus from the business. I did whatever work happened to be in L.A., but I had to turn down all the stuff that was in Toronto or Vancouver or Sydney, Australia, or Newark, N.J. I wasn’t going to leave. I wanted to stay home and make sure that they had both parents at home for their entire childhood. And that, I think, worked out. They’re amazing kids.

What’s your perspective on aging?

I always say I’m just getting started. I don’t even think about it. I’m very, very grateful that I’m healthy. I can still work out every day. I can still do 10 pull-ups if I want to, 30 push-ups if I want to, that kind of thing. Physically I stay in as good shape as possible. I don’t think about aging.

Any dream roles still on your wish list?


I’m working on three Shakespearean roles that I’ve been working on for years. Prospero from The Tempest, Richard III … the Scottish King, [Macbeth]. And there’s a fourth one too, which I’m just starting to work on now, which is King Lear. I’m about ready to enter the age bracket that’s appropriate for King Lear. Those four — they have to happen before the lights go out.

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Hamlin and his niece, trained chef Renee Guilbault, share cooking and hosting tips on AMC+'s "In The Kitchen With Harry Hamlin."
Courtesy AMC Networks

Linoleum Chicken

Hamlin’s Linoleum Chicken recipe — so named because he once dropped the chicken on a linoleum floor while preparing it — is featured on his new AMC+ cooking show, In the Kitchen With Harry Hamlin.

Serves 4 to 6


1 3-5 pound whole chicken

1 ½ tablespoon kosher salt, divided

3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 small onion, peeled and quartered

1 lemon, washed and halved

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 garlic cloves, smashed

6-8 heirloom carrots, stems removed, washed and halved

2 stalks of celery, washed and cut into 3 to 4 pieces

1 pound baby potatoes, washed

1 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay

1 cup low sodium chicken stock


Preheat the oven to 450° F. Clean and pat the chicken dry, removing the giblets. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Season inside the cavity and outside of the chicken with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and place the 1⁄4 onion, lemon, rosemary and garlic into the cavity. Add remaining onion, carrots, celery and potatoes around the chicken, pour ½ cup white wine into the pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and lower the temp to 350° F.

Combine the remaining wine and chicken stock in a bowl and season with ½ tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon pepper. Baste the chicken for 30 minutes every 15 minutes. Roast chicken for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and the internal temperature is 165° F when probed in the thickest part of the thigh. Remove the chicken from the oven (be careful not to drop it!), let it rest for 10 minutes and discard the aromatics from the cavity. Carve chicken for easier serving and arrange the vegetables around the chicken on the platter. Garnish and serve. Pour the liquid from the roasting pan into a gravy separator, season to taste and serve with chicken.

*Tip: Save the bones and raw vegetable trimmings to make chicken stock.

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