Bros – Nicholas Stoller: ‘I don’t see how to do a romantic comedy without sex’

The director of Without Sarah nothing goes, 5 years of reflection and Our Worst neighbors tackles the gay romantic comedy with Bros, where Billy Eichner and Luke MacFarlane hold the main roles. Meeting, while the trailer has just been unveiled.

Watching the trailer for Bros, I realized that no major movie studio had produced a real romantic comedy around gay characters. How is it possible ?
So there, no idea! I’m not a studio boss, you should ask them (Laughter.) But it’s all the more surprising that we didn’t have to fight with Universal, we pitched the idea and they were immediately on board. While filming certain scenes, I said to myself: But it’s still not possible that it only exists now. I didn’t even think it was cool that we were the first, it just seemed crazy to me!

Yet it is still you, a straight man, who is making the film.
Wait, I’ll go back to the origins of the project. I love romantic comedies and I’ve directed a few, as you know. I’ve had the idea of ​​a rom com with two homosexual men in mind for a long time, but I’m actually straight, so I couldn’t write it alone. I met Billy Eichner on Our Worst Neighbors 2and then we worked longer together on my series Friends From College. This is where I discovered its full potential. When we projected the first episode of the series on the big screen to test it with an audience, everyone collapsed with laughter as soon as he was on the picture, whatever he was doing. Honestly, I hadn’t understood that he was so funny! We were on the level of Jonah Hill when he appears in 40 years old still a virgin. Obviously, Billy was a movie star. So I phoned him to offer him to write what will become Bros. I didn’t know if he would feel comfortable writing this with a straight person, but he immediately said yes, and he even had a vague idea to start with. So we started.

What attracted you so much to the concept of gay rom com?
No one had yet made this kind of story with the tone that is mine, that is to say pure comedy but general public, commercial if you like: something very funny, very adult, but sincerely sweet and with a happy ending. I hope you will have a lot of fun, but that you will also be taken by surprise by the emotion. It’s the kind of film that appeals to me. And then most films about homosexuals are tragedies, most often small independent productions. Bros has the merit of being totally different. But even putting all that aside, I’ve made a career out of casting actors, helping them find their comedic voice. I’m obviously thinking of Jason Segel in Without Sarah nothing goesSeth Rogen in Our Worst Neighbors or Russell Brand in American Trip. And since Billy is one of the funniest human beings I’ve ever met, I thought he had to have a starring role in a movie.

In writing and filming, what have you learned about same-sex relationships?
Big talking point with Billy. The cliched answer is that heterosexual and homosexual relationships have a lot in common. And yet it’s true: we’re all vulnerable, feeling bad about ourselves… In short, it’s almost the same thing whether you’re straight or gay. But Billy told me very quickly that generally – and I emphasize generally, that doesn’t mean that’s the case for everyone – gay men are attracted to very masculine, very manly men. It allowed us to talk in the film – even if we don’t say so explicitly – about toxic masculinity. It was a really interesting angle.

In the trailer, Billy’s character pokes fun at the very concept of a gay romantic comedy. Is it just a little joke or a more meta reflection on the subject?
Oh, just a little joke, a scene early in the movie but used very well in the trailer. In fact, the idea is to explain very clearly to the public what they are going to see. But also to lay the foundations of this character, who has a very cynical look at love and the fact of possibly falling one day on the man of her life.

Judging by the trailer, you don’t dodge the sex scenes…
Oh no, not at all! Besides, I don’t see how to make a romantic comedy without sex. It would seem very strange to me never to show the two characters in this intimacy. But I still have a kind of problem with the sex scenes: I’m unable to shoot it in the first degree, it has to be funny. Otherwise I feel very, very uncomfortable! So hats off to Basic Instinct and all the others, I wouldn’t be fucked to do that (Laughter.) Still, it’s really fun sex, right?

Bros, on October 26 at the cinema. With Billy Eichner, Luke MacFarlane, TS Madison…

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