In ‘Bros,’ Billy Eichner Subverts the Hollywood Status Quo

As the release approaches for Universal’s Bros—the first studio-backed gay rom-com to receive theatrical distribution—let no one say Billy Eichner didn’t do everything he could for its success. The film’s star and cowriter, riding high off of excellent reviews and buzz out of its Toronto International Film Festival premiere, has been everywhere in support of the film, both virtually and literally. He’s gone on a bus tour, made the late-night rounds, returned to the streets of New York, relentlessly flogged the project on his social media channels. He’s not letting the moment pass him by. “It’s a very rare movie—just the existence of it is very rare,” Eichner tells me on this week’s Little Gold Men (listen to the episode below). “And I’m also really proud of it.”


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Bros stars Eichner and Hallmark hunk Luke Macfarlane as two single gay men in modern New York who find themselves improbably, gradually drawn to each other—left to navigate the familiar rom-com minefields of meet-cutes and insecurities and philosophical differences, as well as the more contemporary pitfalls of the hookup-app era. It’s a seamless blend of the kind of raunchy-sweet blockbusters that Judd Apatow has put out throughout his career—he’s a producer here, notably—and of what an authentic queer rom-com in 2022 must look like.

Both accessible and entirely fresh, Bros seems likely to make a dent on Friday at the box office, which has seen successful bows for The Woman King and Don’t Worry Darling over the past two weeks. In our interview, Eichner goes deep on the making and rollout of the Nicholas Stoller–directed movie, and striking that careful balance between a timeless story and a historic breakthrough. Eichner is right in arguing Bros is for everyone, not just the LGBTQ+ viewers understandably very excited about the film, and has made that a core part of his pitch: “I really hope straight people get out there to see this movie, the way they would see any other big hilarious comedy in a movie theater that Judd Apatow made, or anyone else—because it’s really no different.”

Vanity Fair: I feel like you have been quite literally everywhere in support of this movie. What has it been like, just getting the word out and also hoping people go see this movie?

Billy Eichner: It’s been a whirlwind, a true roller coaster of emotions. It’s been thrilling though. I mean, I’ve never been a part of anything like this. It’s a very rare movie. Just the existence of it is very rare. And I’m also really proud of it. I want people to see it. When we were first testing the movie, and seeing how positive even the earliest reactions to the movie were—a lot of people laughing out loud from start to finish, even at our earliest test screenings, but also surprisingly moved by it—I told Universal that I would do anything and everything I could to get the word out and try to get people to the movie theater, which can be a difficult thing these days if you’re not a franchise film or a superhero movie or a horror movie. I love comedies and I miss going to see comedies in movie theaters. And I love romantic comedies. I miss going to see those in movie theaters.

It was really special to see the reaction out of Toronto specifically, because that’s one of the biggest movie festivals in the world. You got to have this huge crowd really laughing along with the movie. But I am really curious about that other element you were talking about, of moving people. What parts of the movie do you identify as having that effect on people, that you wanted to really hit in that particular way?

I’m always surprised by which moments affect people. It’s not always the ones that you see coming…. As me and my love interest, Aaron, start to bond and our relationship is becoming more intimate and vulnerable and romantic, we see all those walls come down between us. It’s very sweet and feels very real and honest to people. Our characters start revealing more about our lives. It’s not always within a joke form. Sometimes it gets just earnest and honest. And I think that’s important too, as important as the jokes, because we haven’t gotten a movie like this, not one produced and being released and distributed at this scale that is an authentic gay romcom written by a gay man and starring LGBTQ people. I think that the movie needed to find a way to acknowledge both what’s celebratory and joyous about this moment and the existence of this movie, but also speak to why it took so long and the frustrations and challenges that gay people, LGBTQ people have faced. And I didn’t want to do it in a heavy handed way because it is a comedy 95% of the time.

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