Billy Eichner knows much has been written and lauded about Nick Stoller’s Bros being the first gay romantic comedy from a major Hollywood studio as it had its world premiere on Friday night at the Toronto Film Festival.
“But we have to acknowledge the decades of LGBTQ folks who did not get this opportunity, right? OK, so everyone likes us now. But why did it take so long? I think that’s a question worth asking,” Eichner said at the Bros press conference in Toronto on Saturday morning.
The Bros star also paid tribute to Universal for getting behind the gay rom-com. “They could have wanted some soft, cheesy sitcom thing and we gave them a hard R Apatow/Stoller rom-com, which is very unapologetic, and they’ve gotten behind it in a major way, so we’re thankful,” Eichner said.
He co-wrote Bros with Stoller and along with much of the film’s cast talked about breaking barriers for LGBTQ actors and creators at the TIFF presser. “I got to watch the world laugh with us, and not at us. We were joking, and we weren’t the joke,” Ts Madison, who also appears in RuPaul’s Drag Race, said after around 1700 fest-goers at the Princess of Wales Theatre got a first look at the movie in Toronto.
Eichner agreed hearing the live audience in Toronto, especially post-pandemic, was a pleasant surprise. “It was even better than we hoped it would be and imagined it would be. There aren’t many comedies released in theaters anymore. To hear all of those people laughing, it was extraordinary. It blew my mind,” Eichner, who admitted to be sleep-deprived after the Friday night premiere, told the press conference.
“It’s insane that there aren’t already 1000s of these. And so I’m just proud that we were able to make it,” Bros producer Judd Apatow said of being able to make the LGBTQ comedy. He added the Toronto premiere was the culmination of years of creative development.
“It was amazing because we all talked about it for years, our hopes and dreams for what the movie would be and what would be the response. So to hear those laughs and how it was so moving — it feels like a miracle. Because it’s the result of thousands of conversations,” Apatow added.
For Eichner, the role he played as Bobby, a podcaster with a passion for gay history, isn’t autobiographical. But Bros has a lot of what the openly gay star of Billy on the Street has wanted to say for some time.
“Everyone wants to be understood. I’m the last person who wants to be seen as a victim — a victim of being gay — because I’ve never felt that way. But the world sometimes puts you in a position where it really becomes an obstacle, even though it’s so silly that it’s an obstacle,” Eichner explained.
“Can’t we have one movie where we’re happy at the end,” he added as Eichner critiqued past Hollywood movies about LGBTQ characters who were struggling and tortured by their closeted lives.
As Bros brings queer love and queer sex into a mainstream rom-com genre, Universal is set to release the movie on Sept. 30 across North America. The movie also stars Luke Macfarlane, Guy Branum, Ryan Faucett, Miss Lawrence and Dot-Marie Jones.
The Toronto Film Festival runs through to Sept. 18.