×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Billy Eichner: ‘Fully Formed’ LGBT Characters, Stories Needed (Guest Column)

We have seen a ton of progress on television. If you compare things to when I was a kid, things have drastically changed. Thankfully, I get to take advantage of that. I’m on multiple shows this year of all different genres from “Billy on the Street” and “Difficult People” and “Friends From College” to “American Horror Story” and “Bob’s Burgers” and other things. The great thing
is that’s not that unusual.

When it comes to film, it seems like movie studios have a lot of work to do. We had “Moonlight” this year, which is proof that a tiny movie about not only a gay man, but a gay man of color, can win the Academy Award for best picture over a lot of more high-profile films.

“Moonlight” is a step in the right direction, but we want to [also] be seen in big-budget movies. And we want to be seen in action films. It’s nice that Deadpool is bisexual, but I want to see some action then, you know? Ryan Reynolds even came out and said he’d love to see Deadpool have a boyfriend at some point. We need to see those things. You can write it off as a silly super hero movie, but those things have a huge impact.

source: GLAAD

LGBT characters and story lines have to be good: The quality of works really does matter. People saw “Moonlight” because it was excellent. I’m sure there are some great little indie movies out there about gay people that don’t necessarily get the wide release that they deserve, but I think we’re moving toward that day. We’re certainly not going to get there if we’re not telling those stories — and you also have a responsibility to make it good.

Fully formed characters are key: One thing that I love about “Difficult People” is that Julie Klausner and our showrunner, Scott King, have written the lead character I play as a fully formed man. I’m not neutered in any way, and I’m not just the wacky neighbor or some angel-martyr figure that’s giving everyone else advice. But at the same time I’m not some cartoonishly horny friend of a friend that pops in every once in a while, you know, because gay men love sex so much. I’m all of those things and I’m also sad, and I’m also struggling with my family, struggling with my career, struggling with a lack of self-awareness and narcissism, while also trying to be funny and enjoy life at the same time. In other words, it’s a fully formed person.

On whether LGBT characters can be punchlines: Saying gay people shouldn’t be the punchline is basically saying don’t make people the punch line, which I think is ridiculous. The whole point of comedy is on some level to make fun of ourselves and put everything into an absurdist context. To me, all facets of life are completely absurd. It’s all about context, and bottom line: Is it funny? You can make a mean joke and it’s fine if it’s funny. If it’s not funny, then it’s just purely mean.

On the importance of showing up for films with LGBT characters: It’s not enough for Hollywood to make a bunch of gay movies. That’s obviously a big part of the equation, but then gay people have to show up for those movies. When something good does happen — when a “Moonlight” comes along — we have to go and see it. We have to spend our money on it because, ultimately, it’s a numbers game. You can laugh at Tyler Perry or not laugh at Tyler Perry, but they’re going to keep making those Tyler Perry movies because his audience shows up for them consistently. We have to show up for each other. I’m not sure we are just yet. — As told to Ricardo Lopez

Writer-actor-comedian Billy Eichner appears in the new season of “American Horror Story.”

More Film

  • Vice Christian Bale Sam Rockwell Playback

    Berlin Adds 'Vice,' New Films by Zhang Yimou and Andre Techine to Official Lineup

    Five new titles, including the latest films from Zhang Yimou and Andre Techine, have joined the competition program at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. Adam McKay’s “Vice” will screen out of competition, as will Alan Elliott’s documentary “Amazing Grace.” “Vice” has already won a Golden Globe for star Christian Bale’s portrayal of former U.S. Vice President [...]

  • Picture Tree Adds ‘Cold Feet’ to

    Picture Tree Adds ‘Cold Feet’ to Berlin Market Lineup (EXCLUSIVE)

    Picture Tree Intl. has added German romantic comedy “Cold Feet” (Kalte Füsse) to its market lineup at the Berlin Film Festival, where the sales agent will screen the film as a market premiere. Sony Pictures released the pic, directed Wolfgang Groos, in Germany on Thursday, and it garnered 100,000 admissions over its opening weekend. “Cold [...]

  • Neil Burger

    'Upside' Director Neil Burger Sets Sci-Fi 'Voyagers' as Next Project

    “The Upside” director Neil Burger is set to direct sci-fi thriller “Voyagers” as his next project. The film will be fully financed and co-produced by Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios, and produced by Burger’s Nota Bene Productions and Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road Films. AGC also handles international sales on the new film. Written and directed by [...]

  • Berlin: M-Appeal Acquires Panorama Title ‘Greta’

    M-Appeal Acquires Berlin Panorama Title ‘Greta’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    M-Appeal has acquired world sales rights to “Greta,” the feature debut of Brazil’s Armando Praça which will world premiere in this year’s Berlinale Panorama section. The Berlin-based film industry has also dropped an international trailer, to which Variety has had exclusive access. Produced by Carnaval Filmes, whose credit include major titles by Marcelo Gomes, one [...]

  • Kew Media Boards Michael Jackson Documentary

    Kew Media Boards Michael Jackson Documentary 'Leaving Neverland' for International

    Kew Media Distribution has boarded controversial Michael Jackson sex-abuse documentary “Leaving Neverland” ahead of its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Kew Media has taken international distribution rights (excluding U.K. and U.S.) to the two-part documentary, which is a co-production of HBO and British broadcaster Channel 4. Directed by BAFTA-winner Dan Reed, “Leaving [...]

  • Nordic Film Market: New Pálmason, Hákonarson,

    Nordic Film Market Selects Latest Palmason, Hakonarson, Hafstrom, Ganslandt

    The 20th Nordic Film Market in Göteborg, unspooling Jan. 31-Feb 3, will showcase 16 works in progress including Hlynur Pálmason’s “A White, White Day”, Grímur Hákonarson’s “The County”, Mikael Håfström’s “The Perfect Patient” and Jesper Ganslandt’s “438 Days.” Iceland is well represented this year with top directors and festival darlings Pálmason (“Winter Brothers”), Hákonarson (“Rams”) [...]

  • 'All These Small Moments' Review

    Film Review: 'All These Small Moments'

    The magic of writer-director Melissa B. Miller Costanzo’s “All These Small Moments” can be found within the intimacy of the scenarios, the authenticity of her earnest characterizations, and the accessibility of the actors’ honest performances. In her deftly polished directorial debut, Costanzo dovetails the primary story about a teen’s coming of age with a secondary [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content