After talking to both director Michael Showalter and his (other) leading man, Ben Aldridge, it came time for Peter Gray to converse with Spoiler Alert’s Jim Parsons, where the two touched on the ease of queer stories now being told, his relationship with the inspirational figure behind the film, Michael Ausiello, and what it was about this story that made him want to adapt it personally.
This is a story that I think will resonate with many audiences, but obviously queer audiences, and as a gay man myself it is so refreshing to see these characters presented so naturally. Are you finding it easier to find a space for these types of stories to be told?
Yeah, I am. And I don’t know if I would’ve felt secure answering that question a year and a half ago before having made this movie. Going through this process I see it more clearly. It makes me happy. I think for audiences in general, homosexuality is becoming less and less a foreign concept. It doesn’t need explaining. Of the many things I loved about making this movie, probably my very favourite, and it’s establishing your point, I was getting to take part in the kind of movie love story that I have grown up with all my life, but I was able to do it as part of a gay relationship. While I don’t think I had that as a specific dream of mine, I see now that (Spoiler Alert) answered a deep, deep wish and something that if I thought about subconsciously I never thought would be able to happen. But something has shifted.
It’s very promising to see stories being told this. I mean, we’re just like those straight people…
(Laughs) That’s right! I had a friend who saw the movie, and he’s also gay, he said that what he loved most about it was that we have a right to be in troubled relationships just like everybody else. We have a right to die of cancer like everybody else. It was like, yeah, all that shit happens to us too. It sounds so elementary, and it is, but for some reason it’s all so still remarkable at the same time.
What was it about Michael’s story that made you want to seek him out and adapt it?
He had asked me to conduct a Q&A at a Barnes & Noble for the book, because we had known each other from interviews over the years. I said I’ll do it and I read the book. I was really surprised at how deeply and emotionally it hit me the whole time I read it. Some of that was that I recognised myself and my husband in the story in a way that I had never read or seen before. I felt so close to it. Parallel-ish. But it really was the way in which these two souls handled this very hard, profound journey together. I was drawn to the paradox of this really horrible thing, something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and how it was one of the most profound gifts they have ever been given. Without that horrific diagnosis, Michael and Kit never would have know each other’s souls the way they did. I think that’s such a rare gift.
When I spoke to Ben he mentioned that he found Kit on his own just as much as Michael helping him. When it comes to portraying Michael, did he inform your performance? Or did you want to find him on your own too?
The facts are I had known him somewhat socially over the years, as a journalist, we had seen each other on many red carpets, but I didn’t know he had gone through any of this with Kit, even though I had known him through all of it. But I knew who he was, and I think the most important thing for me was the book. It’s about the couple, but it’s all from Michael’s point of view. So there was so much information for me the whole time. I knew that I wasn’t going to sound like Michael, and I don’t look like Michael, so the book for me was like a bible. He was so eloquent in his point of view that I would always go back to the book whenever we were doing a particular scene, because he was so descriptive about what he was feeling in every moment. But even him just being on set, and everyone agreed with this, that it was very powerful. You always know it’s a real story, but to have the real guy there grounds it in a way that you wouldn’t get without him.
Spoiler Alert is screening in Australian theatres from February 9th, 2023.