Obviously, gay marriage is such a lightning rod issue, especially with all the ballot initiatives and such. How do you make a movie that has this issue as a centerpiece and still really make it accessible and something people will gravitate toward and not flip the channel?
First and foremost, it goes back to what we were saying originally. The brilliance of the conception and initial writing of the script is it's a comedy and it kind of sucks you in by being funny and lighthearted, but what's going on is there's politics underneath it, there's real substance, so I think people will sit and watch because a) it's funny, and entertaining, and accessible, and b) the cast, with John Stamos and Eric Dane (from Grey's Anatomy) and James Brolin, who people know. I think that cast will attract people that would not have gone to a movie like this or would have rented it if it were the same movie with an unknown cast shot as an independent film. So, I think it's very clever and very exciting that A&E was willing to put itself out there with this movie, because they don't really make things like this. When you look at A&E, it's interesting. It's all reality shows, and intervention, and all these hard-biting, testosterone-driven, and then here's my little sweet romantic comedy about gay marriage? I think A&E is trying to shift its audience a bit.
So, did you get to call Eric Dane "McSteamy" on the set? Or was that before he was McSteamy?
It was kind of before, because when we made the movie, it was early summer/late spring, and he had only done one episode of Grey's Anatomy last year, where I guess he was dubbed "McSteamy" at that point. But it was just sort of wonderful timing, casting-wise, he kind of exploded this year on the show. He actually, though, had worked with Craig and Neil on "Serving in Silence," which was a movie they made years ago...
The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story?
Yeah! Back when he was a kid. I think he played one of Glenn Close's sons. So, he has a history with the producers.
Sounds like it's good to get in with those producers. Once you're in their family...
I know. Exactly.
I saw that John Stamos is in all the promotional materials. He's on the cover of The Advocate. He's obviously a great person to pull people in, again, if they're not into the gay marriage angle. What was he like to work with, and what was his approach to the role?
John was great. It was thrilling to have him attached to the movie, because I knew right away that people would find the movie who otherwise wouldn't find the movie, because John Stamos, straight and gay people alike love him and think he's sexy. As far as working with him, he was wonderful. He's one of these actors where he's been in TV for a long time and, I don't think he's done that many feature projects, actually, but it was great for him. He was very excited to be the lead and really carry the movie, which I think he does beautifully. Working with him was kind of effortless. Initially, he was very concerned about not playing the role too queeny. You know, too stereotypically. I personally get a little annoyed with that conversation, because I think it sort of stems from homophobia. I don't have an issue with flamboyant men. I think they're hilarious, but for this part it did not make sense for him to be outrageous in any way. At the same time, I didn't want him to whitewash it down to be so not flamboyant that it wasn't believably gay. So, we had some initial sort of subtle character conversations where he was almost playing it too straight. And I said, 'You know, John. Gay guys don't do that. You're being a little too conservative.' Then, I caught him off-guard because he was telling some story and he was really funny and animated. His eyes lit up, and he was jumping around the room and being very funny, and I stopped him and said, 'That is the character! That's who Shel is! He's this person with a light in his eyes, with energy, with life, with a sense of humor. That's who he is, and that's who you are. So you have to sort of bring that charm to the role and then you don't have to play it gay. You're just a person.' So, he got it. I got it. We kind of got the best of it, so I had to occasionally tell him to gay it up a little more, and he was more than willing.