In the mainstream comedy Bros, Canadian actor Luke Macfarlane (TV's Brothers & Sisters), who is openly gay, plays Aaron, a much-too-handsome estate lawyer who hooks up with a museum curator named Bobby Lieber (Billy Eichner) through a dating app.
As to be expected in rom-coms, the couple is totally wrong for each other — yet totally right. Unlike most-rom coms, however, Bros feel like a groundbreaking movie because this kind of LGBTQ+ content has never felt so easily accessible.
During an interview with Macfarlane, the Current asked the actor about gay comedies hitting the mainstream and his experience working with an intimacy coordinator. We also talked about straight moviegoers who are uncomfortable watching gay sex scenes. Bros, which is directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and co-produced by Judd Apatow (Knocked Up), opens at theaters on September 30, 2022.
What resonated with you about the story behind Bros?
Well, honestly, I've done a lot of romantic comedies. I never would have thought when I graduated from Juilliard 19 years ago that I would make a lot of television series that many people are not aware of and make a handful of Hallmark films that many people are very aware of. So, I kind of learned a lot about some of the romantic tropes that Bros subverts in this movie. I was also thrilled to be part of a studio picture. I didn't know if that was ever gonna happen. It's a very rarefied space and becoming more and more rarified. Studios are making less and less films, especially films that take chances.
With a film like Bros, do you feel like LGBTQ+ content is coming to the mainstream and can't be labeled as a niche product anymore?
We've come a very long way. When I was a kid, there was certainly never a movie like this in the multiplex in the suburbs where I grew up. Do we have further to go? Yes, absolutely. But I also think it's important to know that that's not going to jeopardize any of the straight stories that we've come to appreciate so much. I often think there's a perspective that anytime something comes out that is new and representing an underrepresented group of people, it's somehow threatening to the mainstream. I just don't think that is the case.
Is there a different dynamic on set when you're working on a movie with so many other gay actors?
I think on this project, I was working with people that have not been given a lot of opportunities. So, we were all really grateful to be there. That creates a very generous work environment. I mean, yes, we have a common sort of vocabulary and common history. I've been on a lot of sets, and it would surprise a lot of people to know that there's a lot of apathy on movie sets. People get a little tired, and that's expected. But that was not the case with these actors. Most of them had never been in a movie of this scale. So, there was just great gratitude and appreciation.
What is it like working with an intimacy coordinator on set?
It's different for every single project. But Billy and I very quickly developed a sort of rapport and relationship, and the intimacy coordinator for us was really just a conversation. They sort of brokered the deal where it was like, "Are you cool with telling Luke if you're not cool with something?" So much about those scenes had to be spontaneous. I would say 80% was in that moment. So, our intimacy coordinator just made sure to look us in the eyes and ask, "You guys cool?"
I watched the movie in a theater, where I caught a couple of people cringing during the sex scenes. What do you think that says about a person when they're not comfortable watching same-sex intimacy?
God, that's such an interesting question! There will be those people. The first movie I ever did was Kinsey, [the 2004 biopic on American sexologist Alfred Kinsey]. I played Liam Neeson's and Laura Linney's son. In one of my scenes at the dinner table, I ask why everyone is always talking about sex all the time. Kinsey would suggest that those who are uncomfortable have the thing that they have to examine in themselves the closest. I don't know if I entirely agree with that. But if you truly bring yourself to a movie, we don't go to the movies only to see ourselves. We go to look at other people and see how we're like them. I would tell those people to lean into that discomfort. Ask yourself why you think that makes you uncomfortable? Kinsey certainly thinks he knows.
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