Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”
Hello from Provincetown, Massachusetts. As I write this week’s column, Fabian and I are enjoying a week on Cape Cod. In addition to spotting “White Lotus” star Murray Bartlett riding his bike on Commercial Street and seeing Billy Eichner at the legendary daily afternoon “T-party” at the Boatslip hotel, I finally got to meet David Drake, the artistic director of The Provincetown Theater, at a performance of the company’s “The Glass Menagerie.” Due to the pandemic, this season’s performances are outdoors on a stage erected in the theater’s parking lot. As Drake noted in his introduction of the sold-out performance, audiences get to view “The Glass Menagerie” under the same stars that Tennessee Williams probably experienced while writing the first draft of the play in a cottage on the east end of Provincetown. The Provincetown Theater is an example of the resiliency of the arts. At the end of the play, Tom tells Laura to blow out her candles. Fortunately, arts organizations like The Provincetown Theater have refused to let these dark and uncertain times dim their lights.
“Cobra Kai” trouper Tanner Buchanan is defending the casting of TikTok’s biggest star, Addison Rae, in “He’s All That,” Netflix’s gender-swapped remake of 1999’s “She’s All That.” Rae had no acting experience before being chosen to star as a high school influencer who makes it her mission to transform the school’s most unpopular boy (Buchanan) into the prom king. “She put in the work. She did audition for this,” Buchanan tells me on this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast. “She had to send them her self-tapes and everything. Everybody had to be OK with her, and she did an amazing job.” He continued that Rae, who told me earlier this year she worked with an acting coach for her debut, came prepared. “I’m really big about my lines, but I screw up a lot,” Buchanan says. “She knew her lines way better than I knew mine. She was on top of it the entire time. That’s what I keep telling people is you would think that she’s [been acting] for years.” In addition to the excitement surrounding the release of “He’s All That” on Aug. 27, Buchanan, 22, has the Emmys to look forward to next month. Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” landed a surprise nomination for outstanding comedy series in a category that includes “Ted Lasso,” “Black-ish,” “Emily in Paris,” “The Flight Attendant,” “Hacks,” “The Kominsky Method” and “Pen15.” “I don’t think any of us were expecting it,” Buchanan says. “Nor do I want to expect anything. I love what I do, and we just try to make a good show and that’s all that matters.”
Could a superhero be next for Buchanan? The actor says he’d love to play his favorite superhero, Robin, opposite Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader. He also wouldn’t mind playing the character as bisexual, as he is in the August issue of “Batman: Urban Legends.” “If I have the opportunity to represent something like that, that’s incredible,” Buchanan says. “If they’re willing to write it, then you know what? Of course I’m going to play it” It wouldn’t be the first time he’d play an LGBTQ+ character after having done so on “The Fosters” and on an episode of TNT’s “Major Crimes.” I do come from the Midwest and it can be a little conservative sometimes,” the Ohio native says. “Growing up, people aren’t exposed to the world and I was lucky enough to have come out to LA where it’s a completely different world than Midwest. And my eyes were open to that from a very young age that I was like, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.’”
Listen to the full interview with Buchanan above. You can also find “Just for Variety” at Apple Podcasts or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.
In the new Spanish-language series “Everything Will Be Fine,” a couple (Flavio Medina and Lucía Uribe) in Mexico City splits up after the wife has an affair with the dentist of the family’s young daughter, but series creator, director and producer Diego Luna wants viewers to know that the very intimate and realistic Netflix show is not based on his real-life divorce from Camila Sodi. “I just go to therapy and discuss it with one person that has the credentials to listen to it — not audiences, not social media! That would be a disaster,” Luna tells me of the new Netflix dramedy. “I force myself every time I try to tell a story as a director to take it as far away as possible from my own experience. … If it’s too close, you start to become protective.”
The series takes a look at so-called failed relationships that don’t have a happily-ever-after-ending. “The ‘ever-after’ idea is like oh, my god,” Luna says. “If we would be able to go back in time and erase that sentence, every fairy tale, every movie that we watched as kids we would be so much freer to define who we want to be. This idea that things are forever are just so ridiculous.”
Luna decided to stay in back of the camera in order to stay focused on his actors. “I think it’s different muscles to me,” he says. “I don’t think you would be able to deliver the best performance of your life if you don’t trust someone else to witness it for the first time. And as a director I really don’t want to be distracted.”
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