“Bros,” the meta all-queer rom-com from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” scribes Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller, wanted to find the next “openly gay Ryan Reynolds or an openly gay Paul Rudd” to play the love interest opposite Eichner’s lead.
“I just assumed that my love interest had to be played by a big movie star, which would mean a straight man because we don’t have any openly gay movie stars in America,” Eichner told Entertainment Weekly about casting the film, out September 20. “We have TV stars, a lot of openly gay actors, but a movie star…”
Eichner continued, “We’ve never had an openly gay Ryan Reynolds, or an openly gay Paul Rudd, or an openly gay Kevin Hart, they just do not exist. Hollywood did not allow for it.”
“Bros” stars an entirely LGTBQ+ cast and centers on Eichner playing a podcast host who is tasked with writing a romance film that appeals to straight audiences. Eventually, the jaded podcaster falls for Hallmark Channel alum Luke Macfarlane; the cast also includes Harvey Fierstein, Bowen Yang, Symone, Miss Lawrence, Guy Branum, Guillermo Diaz, Amanda Bearse, and Ts Madison. The film is produced by Judd Apatow.
Eichner added that casting a straight male co-lead would not be the “right thing ethically” or creatively. “We’re doing a movie where you have this throughline about how LGBTQ people have been erased from history, so it would be so hypocritical,” Eichner said.
“Bros” also doesn’t shy away from showing real relationships onscreen, unlike the “two-dimensional and very not threatening” TV kind of male gay romances that Eichner described as “sexless.” Or, in a true vixen/virgin fashion, gay men are portrayed as “completely obsessed with sex and drugs” as another extreme.
“We’re not doing a sitcom. This is not as simple as doing ‘When Harry Met Sally’ or some Hallmark Christmas movies and just swapping in two gay guys for the straight couple and having everything play out the same way,” the “Billy on the Street” star explained.
However, there is a dash of classic rom-com sensibility: “You have scenes where Luke and I are walking around on the Upper West Side, on what really felt like a scene out of a Nora Ephron rom-com that I grew up loving, but were never about gay couples,” he continued. “We weren’t even on the sidelines in most of those movies — there wasn’t even a gay best friend at that point.”
Eichner added, “To think that there was this huge crew and a major studio budget that wasn’t enormous, but was much more than what LGBTQ people have gotten in the past…to know we had sweeping crane shots of me and Luke walking hand-in-hand on Central Park West, the way Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan did, was so moving for me.”