One of my favorites from this years Toronto International Film Festival was directed by Nicholas Stollers (The Five-Year Engagement, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) Bros., which is the first LGBTQ+ comedy released by a major studio (Universal Pictures). However, that doesnt matter if the film is worth seeing. Bros, like Ross Bonaime said, joins the great rom-coms from beginning to end.
I couldnt agree more. Bros is laugh-out-loud funny, but it's also a terrific film.
I got to meet Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane (who plays Eichner's love interest) shortly after watching the film, discussing their chemistry, their plans for the film, what they would be surprised to learn about the film's production, their thoughts on representation in Hollywood and how it has changed in the last few years, and the fact that they had to film two big scenes on the first day of filming.
The Bros' jam-packed cast includes comedians from Community's Jim Rash, and Stand-Up Comedy Guy Branum. Ts Madison, Monica Raymund, Harvey Fierstein, Amanda Bearse, Guillermo Diaz, Symone, Eve Lindley, and Dot-Marie Jones star.
In the player above, you can see what Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane had to say, or you can read all of the conversations below.
COLLIDER: I really want to say congrats and express my sincere thanks to Universal Pictures for directing this film. May you just describe the fact that they invested the money to produce this film?
BILLY EICHNER: Yes, they paid for us to be sitting here right now. They've been incredible partners. I'm so grateful for not only supporting us in this film, but also for supporting the idea that we would portray an authentic narrative. We were not merely attempting to be funny, but we also wanted to be very transparent. I've never received calls like, Oh no, this or too!
LUKE MACFARLANE: It's been treated like a real film all the way to this point. They're not putting it on the shelf and stating it'll do its thing. It'll find its audience. They're truly supporting us.
Yes, your relationship in the film must be successful. What was it like to do those chemistry studies, figuring out who's going to be playing opposite you, and what was it like to audition for the film?
MACFARLANE: Absolutely. It was that rare experience of reading the script and immediately connecting with it. Just understanding this guy. We had never met personally before, so stepping into that room the first time, I felt like I understood him and I understood who Aaron was, but I also wanted to impress him. It was nice when we kind of scuffled in the room.
EICHNER: We didn't know each other that much. I think that aided in a way, because our characters got to know each other. I don't know, but we also intimidate one another a bit. It's hard to explain why.
MACFARLANE: We have zero chemistry now that we know each other.
EICHNER: Zero chemistry.
MACFARLANE: It's just that.
I found it fascinating that you guys produced this film, in 34 days, according to me.
EICHNER: I believe it was something like that.
For those who don't realize, that's not a lot of time.
Can you tell us about filming it on a schedule like this? Did you ever feel that pressure?
EICHNER: Nick is fantastic on set, especially when you're dealing with a lot of work at a lower volume than you'd like it to be. He always manages to establish such a calm environment, and that's what I like about him as an actor. He needs to make me feel like everything will be okay, even in the midst of all the chaos.
MACFARLANE: Yes, absolutely. And especially in comedy, because nothing kills a joke more than someone screaming, "We're going to lose the light." So he really kept it to a minimum.
EICHNER: No matter how tight our schedule was, if me or any of the other actors wanted to do something, he always made sure there was time.
What I noticed is that it feels very natural what happens in the film. It feels as if it's based on authenticity. Could you describe a few examples of your real life engulfing you in this movie?
EICHNER: My real life permeates into the film in many ways. Experiences I've had with guys, experiences close friends of mine have had in romantic relationships, or with sex, love, dating, etc. I liked the idea, but I didn't like it. One of the initial concepts we discussed was the possibility that a very personable person might be ruined by falling in love. I thought, what happens if two individuals like that fall for each other? I think there were a lot of comedy
When you're filming or presenting a show, something I love to learn about are the behind-the-scenes details that people wouldn't realize. So what do you think soon-to-be fans of Bros would be surprised to learn about the film's actual production?
MACFARLANE: New Jersey for New York?
EICHNER: Let's not give everything away, Luke. It's amazing how long we shot. There were some really great set pieces that we thought would be enjoyable, but they just went away from the film. I think that's interesting, because I've always found that fascinating.
MACFARLANE: I believe, and I don't think I'm being overly critical, that the musical number was included during filming, so it wasn't part of the original script that we started the shootout with, and Billy advocated for it or kind of invented it.
EICHNER: It all seemed to go very naturally, but I don't want to give too much away.
MACFARLANE: I understand. I don't want to give too much away.
EICHNER: Luke's giving everything away.
I assure you that there will be enough interest in this area that even if people hear specifics, they'll want to experience it.
Hollywood has significantly increased its representation in the last few years. I really feel that the industry has made significant improvements over the previous five or ten years.
What do you guys think about that, and do you think that this is, because this is a watershed moment in Hollywood making this film and releasing this film? Can you elaborate on that, and do you think this is the beginning of another chapter?
EICHNER: I hope so. Bros isn't operating in a vacuum, obviously. It's just evidence that the industry is finally maturing. I think it's just astounding that historically straight actors have gotten to play the majority of high-profile LGBTQ roles in this film. There's no need to establish strict rules about acting, art, or who should play what, but it's just strange.
MACFARLANE: I expect that this will result in seats in the theater and money at the box office, because that's the purpose of the program. I think we're starting to see that there exists, and they can be confident in that. I just want to see that become more, and more.
We were literally talking about how The Woman King would be released just before the cameras began rolling.
This is the direct result of Black Panther's success.
I'm so adamant about ensuring that this film will be successful, because it will open the way for, if it is financially viable, so many more stories. Please describe the scene the night before filming that you were most likely to miss or because it's a big sex scene or a monologue you'll only get a few shots of.
EICHNER: Before our first day of shooting, I said to Nick Stoller, "I'll do anything," and I have two requests, because planning a shooting schedule can be difficult, and it's all very complicated. I have a major scene in the middle of the film. This monologue where I reveal a lot to Luke's character, and I said, "Please don't have me do that on the first day of shooting." And I did both on the first day of shooting.
MACFARLANE: I can't do that. Literally, that was the first day of shooting. Yeah, yeah.
EICHNER: Literally. And Nick was like, "I'm sorry. Because of the way places work and everything, we have to do these on the first day." And that was something I really had to wrap my head around, but I'm glad of how everything came together.
Do you think he might put that on the schedule just to sooth your fears and say you have to just dive in deep on the first day, or it's just scheduling?
EICHNER: No. I think it was purely logistical.
EICHNER: I wish it was as poetic and artistic.
MACFARLANE: You should.
EICHNER: I think it was like, "No, there's this house we really want to shoot it, and they'll only allow us to shoot there on our first day of shooting."
MACFARLANE: Yeah, exactly. I remember shooting that scene, and the first day of shooting you're learning everybody's names. You still don't know the DP who is doing your hair and stuff. And I'm lying there listening to this monologue and wondering, what movie are we doing, because you're also having that conversation in your head. So yeah. We really had to dive into it.
The film The Bros will be released in theaters on September 30.