Approximately one month after news broke that a biopic about Anthony Perkins and Tab Hunter is in development at Paramount, Hunter died on July 8. The project, titled “Tab & Tony,” has now taken on new meaning for producer Zachary Quinto, who feels a responsibility to pay homage to the late actor and gay icon.
“It’s really motivating for me to feel like I want to honor his legacy,” Quinto tells Variety in an interview. “It was so meaningful that he was a part of the process up until his death and provided firsthand, unique, and otherwise irretrievable access to that time and that journey that he had. I feel like I’m just more committed now than ever to telling his story and celebrating his legacy and honoring his contribution to the industry.”
Quinto and co-producer J.J. Abrams are developing the film, which will chronicle the titular actors’ secret love affair through the eyes of Hunter, who detailed his struggle to accept his sexuality in his memoir, “Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star.” Quinto had been in the process of learning about Hunter’s experiences through the actor firsthand when he died.
“Losing him was a real tragedy, in some ways personally, because he was such a vital and loving person,” Quinto says. “He lived an amazing life, and I was just with him a few weeks ago. So there was a shock factor in his death just because he was so energetic, and he just seemed the picture of health.”
Hunter, known for his roles in classic films like “Damn Yankees” and “Battle Cry,” died at age 86. Perkins, who originated the iconic role of Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” died of AIDS-related causes in 1992.
“I feel really fortunate that I got to know Tab in the last year and a half,” Quinto says. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for the life he lived and the way that he engaged his personal and professional experience and confronted the challenges that society presented him with at the height of his fame and success, and that’s really the springboard into this project.”
As of yet, no actors or director have signed onto “Tab & Tony.” Playwright Doug Wright, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “I am My Own Wife,” has been hired to write the screenplay.