After Billy Eichner’s Bros made its big debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, the gay rom-com is ready to be released to the masses on September 30 – and it will more than likely get some great reactions – especially for the LGBTQ community.
GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos had the opportunity to chat with the cast and director of the film including Eichner, Luke Macfarlane, Nick Stoller, Jim Rash, Dot Marie-Jones, Eve Lindley, Miss Lawrence, and TS Madison about the movie and what it meant for them as queer performers (with the exception of Stoller) to have a movie like Bros to be released by a major studio like Universal Pictures.
Starring Eichner, who co-wrote the script with Stoller, Bros has all the makings of a traditional rom-com but it is a lot more queer than your When Harry Met Sallys and your You Got Mails. Eichner plays cynical podcast host Bobby as he attempts to navigate the world of dating and romance in New York. When he meets Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), a lawyer with handsome, good ol’ boy looks and an Adonis bod that is often seen in Weho, things start to change.
Bobby and Aaron couldn’t be more different, but there’s an attraction. True to rom-coms before it, the pair tend to dance around becoming a full-blown couple while they navigate their courtship through aggressively making out in the park, steroid usage, and participating in threesomes.
As a pop culture kid growing up, Eichner told Ramos that he went to his family every Saturday night as a child and he remembers specifically watching what would later become iconic rom-coms like the When Harry Met Sally, Moonstruck, Working Girl and Tootsie. However, he never saw himself in them.
“I loved and watched and rewatched [those movies] a million times over the years, but I never saw myself in them,” said Eichner. “You can feel for the characters, but you know you’re not quite the Tom Hanks and you’re not quite the Meg Ryan, and I think it would’ve been so comforting and so inspiring to see that as a child. I’m really excited that we do have this wave of queer films and shows that young people get exposed to at a much younger age than we did.”
Macfarlane added, “ I grew up in the suburbs and the multiplex was the only place to go see movies. If you wanted to rent something outside of the norm, you’d go to Jumbo Video, and at the back of Jumbo Video there was a little curtain and behind it you could see indie queer films. But you felt sort of… bad doing that, you know? The fact that Bros is in the multiplex is huge.“
Stoller was very aware that he was the token cis heterosexual guy on set directing a gay rom-com, but he was excited to help Eichner tell this story, calling him a “comedy genius”.
“Before I met Billy, for years I had been intrigued by the idea of telling this kind of story, but I’m straight,” said Stoller. “This was not my story to tell. When I met Billy, he was in this show Friends from College that I created with my wife. It turns out he was incredible in it — he’s an incredible actor, which I didn’t know.”
When they screened the pilot in a theater, Stoller said that Eichner killed it on screen every time and he said “Oh, he’s a movie star!” He approached Eichner for Bros and that’s where the journey began.
“We had an entirely LGBTQ cast and they would come up to me and say; this is such an amazing experience’,” said Stoller. It is crazy this took this long. I’m proud I helped make this happen but I’m not happy this is the first one. This should have happened a long time ago.”
The LGBTQ cast that Stoller mentioned also included Rash, Marie-Jones, Lindley, and Lawrence, who all appear in Bros as a queer tribunal that works with Bobby at the LGBTQ center in the movie. Rash said that for them to be part of these scenes was “playful and fun”.
Marie-Jones told Ramos that she has played many gay roles in TV and film, but it’s usually just her and maybe another queer person. Bros changed that for her.
“The fact that we got to do this together in one group was absolutely amazing,” said Marie-Jones. “I never thought I’d see this, but thought I always should.”
Lindley added, “Films like this, would probably be a good place to start. We have everybody and not just in an LGBT way. We have all the different colors and body types and everything in this movie is a truly diverse film outside of being queer and that is so exciting to me.
For Lawrence, a movie like Bros goes beyond the comedy and is truly about representation. “It would’ve meant that I would’ve learned earlier that I have a rightful place in this world and in film and television. That who I am, would be celebrated and honored.” Lawrence said, speaking to what would have been like to see a movie like this at a younger age. “I wouldn’t have had to lean to my own understanding or a wandering curiosity about what love would look like for me. Had we had this type of point of reference back then… I’m an eighties baby… it would’ve been a real game changer as it is now. But I think we would’ve solved a lot of our social constructs and the problems that we faced in social constructs earlier.”
Madison echoes Eichner’s sentiment about how it would have been like seeing a movie like this when she was younger. “To be honest with you, if I would’ve seen something like this back when I was growing up, I would have definitely been more optimistic about love,” Madison admits. “All the experiences that I’ve had thus far from back in the day, I didn’t see love. I didn’t see a love story being glamorized or publicized on such a large platform and for this to be happening in this state. For me to be a part of it is an amazing thing.”
Eichner points out that LGBTQ characters in “mainstream” major studio films are rarely multidimensional. They are often seen as the best friend, sidekick or the the person helping the female lead find love.
“What I really wanted to do with both Luke’s character and mine, was say, yes we can be funny and charming and sweet and all the things that gay men have often been required to be in mainstream Hollywood content, [but] we’re also complicated,” said Eicnher. “We’re messy and hypocritical. I wanted to be able to show both of these characters as multidimensional, which is something that gay characters in movies and TV rarely get to be.”
Eichner added, “You don’t sit down to write a historic movie; you don’t sit down to write a gay movie; you sit down to write a hilarious movie.”
For Bros, Eichner not only had the opportunity to collaborate with Stoller but also Apatow, who has made successful comedies such as Bridesmaids, Trainwreck, 40 Year Old Virgin, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. “I wanted a movie like that that happens to be about gay people and LGBTQ characters,” said Eichner referencing the catalog of Apatow and Stoller’s work. “We’ve never gotten it.”
He said he wants people to leave Bros saying “Wow, I forgot how much fun it is to laugh in a movie theater with hundreds of other people.”
“We just don’t get that experience enough anymore and it’s one of my favorite things to do,” said Eichner.
Bros is in theaters now.
Watch GLAAD at the “Bros” NYC Red Carpet Premiere: