Bros star Billy Eichner says it was important for him to “reflect” his experiences as a “sexual, complicated gay man” in the historic new rom-com.
Written by the Parks and Recreation alum with Nick Stoller (Neighbors), with the latter also directing the film, Bros has been billed as the first gay rom-com to be produced by a major Hollywood studio.
This week finally saw the release of the first trailer, which sees Billy’s character Bobby Leiber discuss writing a gay Hollywood romantic comedy (so meta!) while teasing a gay love story, chosen family and the brutality of online dating (relatable!).
Eichner, who had never written a film before Bros, tells GAY TIMES that he was “worried at the beginning” of the creative process that he “didn’t have anything to say” about the gay community.
“I didn’t know what the story of the movie would be, then it was one of those crazy things – and maybe you get this as a writer – where all of a sudden, you’re obligated to write something so you sit down, stare at the blank page. Turns out, I had so much to say!” he says.
“I realised that we are just so hungry as LGBTQ+ people, as gay men, to see accurate, multi-dimensional and genuinely funny and genuinely smart depictions of ourselves that we don’t get.”
Although the Emmy-nominated comedian is thankful for this “new wave of queer programming” on streaming services, he stresses the need for more narratives that focus on the experiences of “flawed” queer adults.
“It often falls into three categories, especially with gay characters. We’re teenagers who are coming out of the closet, which is wonderful and lovely and so important, and we need those shows,” he explains.
“They’re changing the world and saving kids’ lives and I’m not diminishing the impact of those shows. But, I don’t watch those shows and see myself. I came out decades ago!”
While Eichner respects productions with these narratives and is aware of their impact on queer youth, he doesn’t feel represented as an “adult, sexual, complicated gay man” because of their sometimes “wacky” and “satirical” nature.
“Those characters put a wall between them and the world, and create this distance which makes it more comfortable for people to deal with because we’re not multidimensional and we’re not real, and we can just be these funny cartoon characters for the rest of the world,” he says.
“That’s not so terrible, but again, it’s not real. I don’t feel that we’re being properly reflected. Then we get gay porn, that’s the other side of the extreme! We get a lot of porn, and I love porn as much as the next guy, but it’s not all I want in the world in terms of the portrayal of gay people on screen.”
For Eichner, it was crucial for the dialogue in Bros to reflect how he and his queer circle interact in everyday life, by depicting gay people as “funny, sad, lonely, extremely confident, messy, brave horny and hypocritical adult human beings”.
“We so rarely see that, so it was really important to me,” he adds. “I said to Nick from the very beginning, ‘This has to be authentic. I’m not doing it unless we’re telling, of course I want it to be funny, but it has to feel real and grounded.'”
As for his character Bobby, Eichner describes him as a semi-famous person with an “eclectic portfolio of media-centric jobs” who has a successful podcast about LGBTQ+ history and has written children’s books that incorporate queer issues.
“Bobby was approached to write a movie and he has fans out in the world. He’s not some hugely famous person, but he’s one of these guys who has a big following,” he continues.
“He’s done it all on his own and a lot of it revolves around LGBTQ+ issues in terms of the material he talks about. But as he jokes in the trailer, sometimes he just uses it all as a platform to just rant about his own life and experiences.”
Comparing Bobby to American author and activist Dan Savage, Eichner says the character’s personal issues don’t “mirror” his own, but it was impossible not to include “elements” of his own life.
“Obviously, there’s some overlap and I drew a lot from my personal life, but also the lives of my gay friends. It’s a little bit of me and a little bit of other people I’ve observed over the years.”
Bros features an entirely LGBTQ+ principal cast including Luke Macfarlane, Jim Rash, Bowen Yang, Guillermo Díaz, Ts Madison, Miss Lawrence, Harvey Fierstien, Symone and Benito Skinner, among others.
With Bros, Eichner makes history as the first openly gay man to co-write and star in his own major studio film.
The highly-anticipated film will be released in the US on 30 September and in the UK on 28 October. Watch the first trailer here or below.