Billy Eichner On His History-Making Gay Rom-Com ‘Bros’: ‘It’s The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done’

Billy Eichner spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HL about the road to making 'Bros,' why it was important to have an openly LGBTQ cast in all the main roles, casting the perfect love interest in Luke Macfarlane, and more.

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This September is going to be all about Bros. Billy Eichner’s upcoming comedy, which will be released on September 30, is one for the history books. Bros is the first gay rom-com ever released by a major studio and the first major studio film with an all LGBTQ+ principal cast, even the straight roles. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Billy about the journey Bros has taken to get to the big screen.

“It actually started with Nick Stoller, who I co-wrote it with. Nick has directed a lot of great comedies over the years, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Neighbors. We’d worked together a few times, and he came to me and said, ‘I want my next movie to be a rom-com, but I think it would be cool if it was about a gay couple.’ But he acknowledged he wasn’t gay, which I knew. He said, ‘Do you want to write it with me? And you can star in it and I’ll direct it. And if all goes well, Judd Apatow will produce it,’ which he did end up doing. And I said, ‘Sure,'” Billy told HollywoodLife while discussing his partnership with Heineken.

The poster for ‘Bros.’ (Universal Studios)

He continued, “I knew it was a huge opportunity, but I had no idea at the beginning what to write or if I would even have anything to say because I never thought about doing anything like this. And then it turned out, once I did sit down to write, I had a lot to say. I have been an openly gay man my entire adult life, and I’ve been single for long parts of it. Between me and my friends, we’ve had so many experiences to draw from in terms of dating and relationships. I have my gay friends. I have my straight friends. It ended up being something that I’m really proud of. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and I am so excited for people to see it.”

The ensemble cast includes all LGBTQ actors like Luke Macfarlane, Ts Madison, Monica Raymund, Guillermo Diaz, and more. “They’re all wonderful, and I’m not just saying it because it’s my movie. I am saying that. They’re all openly LGBTQ, so all of us have navigated our real lives as openly LGBTQ people. We’ve navigated life, our personal lives, we’ve navigated Hollywood, and we’re all bringing that to the screen,” Billy continued. “We’ve seen many, many straight actors over the years do a great job at playing a gay character, and they’ve gotten a lot of acclaim and won awards, but there’s something special about actual LGBTQ people bringing their life experiences to the screen.”

He also mentioned that this “allows us to poke fun at ourselves, which we do in the movie a lot because it’s a comedy. We never thought about how it was historic while we were writing it. Our goal was always to make a great comedy. I really miss great comedies, and I think people have forgotten how fun and exciting it is, how uplifting it is to go to a movie theater and sit in the dark, eat snacks, just laugh your ass off, and escape our f**king crazy world for a couple of hours. It really is so much fun. Our goal was always to make it really, really funny. Knock on wood, I am proud of what we’ve done. I think people are really going to have a great time.”

The American Crime Story alum noted that an openly LGBTQ cast is so “rarely” seen in film. “I wanted to make sure that this wasn’t just a great opportunity for me, but that I was bringing up other people in the community with me,” Billy told HollywoodLife. “They’re also funny in the movie, and they all really get a chance to shine. It’s showing Hollywood and the world that we can fully inhabit a movie. It will be hilarious and something that everyone — straight people, gay people, no matter what you are — will appreciate.”

Billy’s on-screen love interest, Aaron, is played by Luke. The actor admitted that the chemistry between them was instant. “It was very important to us from the beginning that my love interest would be played by an openly gay actor,” Billy revealed. “We knew that, but we didn’t know who it would be. Luke came into the audition, and we didn’t know each other at all. There are a lot of guys who auditioned who I’m friends with who are really wonderful, talented, successful actors. They were all great. And then Luke walked in, and I wasn’t even thinking about it very much because I didn’t know him. All of a sudden, we started reading the scene together, and we just had chemistry. It was one of those bizarre, magical things where we had never met before, but there was a spark between us. We’re very different in certain ways. We overlap in certain ways. It’s one of those things that’s hard to articulate, but we just do. We’re like the yin to each other’s yang in many ways. I feel very lucky that he did the movie, and he’s so wonderful in the movie. He brings a lot to it. I really respect his backstory as an actor who came out I think in 2008, long before it was something that people celebrated. It was actually something that people sometimes feared in the industry, what would happen to your career if you came out, especially for a romantic leading man like Luke. I’m thrilled. Not that I gave him this opportunity, but I’m thrilled that he’s in the movie. I really lucked out with him.”

The next few months will be incredibly busy ones for Billy as he spreads the word about Bros. He will be in New York City for Pride Month. “I grew up here, so I’ve been going to New York Prides for centuries now. They’ve gotten way bigger. When I was a kid, they were very scrappy little events. Now they are these huge spectacles.” He noted that “social media has made Pride more important” because the “images from Pride now have such a life beyond just that one Pride parade because people post these images, and people are watching them all over the country and all over the world in places where it’s still very challenging to be LGBTQ.”

Billy Eichner
Billy Eichner at CinemaCon. (Image Press Agency/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)

Billy pointed out that while the LGBTQ community has made tremendous progress, it is a “continuous fight” for equality. “The more progress we make, the more that conservative forces tried to pull us back into the last century, which we’re obviously not going to do. It is a continuous fight,” he said. “I think it probably will be to varying degrees forever. We see this with so many issues. You think you’ve made progress, and then all of a sudden we’re back in the 1950s. It’s really, really unfortunate and exhausting. But that’s why something like Pride is important because it’s joyful. So many of the stories Hollywood has given us about LGBTQ people, especially major studios, are about tragedy and suffering and seeing LGBTQ people, especially gay men, as victims in some way. Brokeback [Mountain] and Philadelphia, these are all great, great movies, but it is time for a movie like Bros which shows people that the experience of being gay is something really joyful and fun and it’s about love and comedy and uplifting people.”

In addition to Bros, Billy also partnered with Heineken to focus on tackling the work-life imbalance that much of today’s workforce faces in the midst of the pandemic. “I love that the campaign is about how blurry the lines have gotten for all of us over the past couple of years. It’s not healthy,” he said. “More and more people are expected to just be available for work around the clock 24/7. Life is short, and we need to enjoy ourselves, no matter how much you love your job. I love my job, and I’m very lucky. It’s also important to have fun and see your friends and socialize. Summer’s coming up. That’s a time that you’re supposed to turn off a little bit if you can. Not me. I’ll be promoted Bros every single second, but other people I think it’s important to spread that message. Even though it’s a fun campaign, and we’re being sarcastic about the bottle opener and it’s very outlandish, but the idea is very real.”