‘Fire Island’ Star/Writer Joel Kim Booster Is Open to a Jane Austen Cinematic Universe: ‘How Can I Make This Gay?’

"It's not off the table, for sure," Booster exclusively told IndieWire.
(From L-R): Margaret Cho, Tomas Matos, Bowen Yang, Joel Kim Booster, and Matt Rogers in the film FIRE ISLAND. Photo by Jeong Park. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved
"Fire Island"
Jeong Park/Hulu

Joel Kim Booster has indicated an interest in adapting more Jane Austen novels for the big screen.

The “Fire Island” writer/actor told IndieWire during the 2022 Gotham Awards that he is constantly thinking of how to turn Austen’s stories into modern queer interpretations. “Fire Island” was inspired by Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice,” and premiered on Hulu earlier this year.

“One of the reasons I wrote this movie in the first place is it’s a fun thought exercise to be like, ‘What are all the parallels? How can I make Wickham a modern day gay man? What is the calculus that’s going into these things?'” Booster said. “I love adaptation. Every time I read a Jane Austen book, I’m always like, ‘Oh, how can we make this gay?’ It’s just the way my brain is broken.”

He added, “It’s definitely something I’ve thought about but I need to try other things before I return to a Jane Austen adaptation. But it’s not off the table, for sure.”

Booster previously cited another iconic Austen adaptation, “Clueless,” as a major inspiration for his film. “I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve watched ‘Clueless,’ from a time before I even understood most of the jokes,” Booster told Vanity Fair. “Jane Austen’s observations about the way people are awful to each other without being awful to each other — I was like, ‘Oh, my God. This is shade. This is what gay men do all the time.'”

Booster formerly told IndieWire’s Jude Dry, “I was struck by how present and relevant her observations about class and the ways people communicate across class lines were. Being in this heightened environment where there are no straight people to oppress us, where we have to figure out ways to oppress each other, and the various ways we do that. How we form those class structures socially around … whether it’s race, or abs, or actual class — money.”

“Fire Island” co-star Bowen Yang added, “The perennial appeal of Jane Austen is these universal internal journeys people go through. Even among those divisions, she’s still talking about this very closed system and what happens when people turn on each other within a somewhat limited scope. … That’s what Joel is trying to map onto it — what happens when gay men turn on each other, how do those things stratify?”

Reporting by Vincent Perella. 

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