Outfest, the Los Angeles LGBTQ+ film festival, kicked off its opening night joyously with the premiere of “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” the film adaptation of the West End show.
The film’s star, Max Harwood, said having its premiere at Outfest is a dream come true. “I’m from Basingstoke in England, which is just south of London, and I’ve never been to L.A. before, so this is absolutely a dream,” Harwood said.
Alongside Harwood, the film stars Sarah Lancashire, Lauren Patel, Shobna Gulati, Ralph Ineson, Adeel Akhtar, Samuel Bottomley, Sharon Horgan and Richard E. Grant.
“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” follows Jamie New (Harwood), a 16-year-old who doesn’t quite fit in. Jamie’s dream has always been to become a drag queen, and with the help of his supportive mother (Lancashire), best friend (Patel) and former drag queen turned mentor Loco Chanelle (Grant), he finally gives it a shot. Although he has support to get him started, obstacles are faced when he is criticized by his estranged father and school bullies for wanting to follow his dreams.
Jamie’s character is told that his dreams of becoming a drag queen are not realistic. Harwood gave advice for those who have big aspirations. “Keep going for it, find people that are going to support you, because you need strong people around you to help you step into yourself,” the star said. “I really relied on my friends growing up.”
On working with the Oscar-nominated Grant, who plays Jamie’s confidante and mentor, Loco Chanelle, Harwood said it was a pleasure. “He’s amazing. He’s so good, sensitive and generous as an actor. It was the best time working with him.”
Patel said playing a supportive best friend for Jamie was needed. “Pritti encourages Jamie in everything that she does — her love for him comes before anything. She’s from a completely different world from him, she doesn’t get any of the drag, but she tries to understand, and that’s what best friends are there to do.”
Jonathan Butterell, director and original creator of the West End show, said that the biggest difference between stage and film was imagination. “What cinema allowed me to do was let my imagination fly. To use a camera in a way that showed scale, intimacy, color and production design,” Butterell said.
Other stars in attendance were excited to see the film premiere at Outfest. “9-1-1: Lone Star” Ronen Rubinstein, who came out as bisexual in an interview with Variety in April, said the film deserves to be seen on the big screen. “I’m just excited to see a movie like this, and to see it on the big screen with people. It’s the best way to see a movie that is this beautiful,” Rubinstein said.
“Good Trouble” star Sherry Cola said more queer stories need to be told. “I’m hoping the world sees that these stories are universal stories,” Cola said. “It’s not just for the queer community, but rather a story about love, community, family and finding yourself.”
Outfest Film Festival runs through Aug. 22, with its closing film being, “Fanny: The Right to Rock.”