‘Bros’ star Billy Eichner defends the film’s raunchy sex scenes: ‘Let’s all calm down’

Brittle may not technically be Hollywood’s first gay love story — movieslike Making Love , Jeffrey and Fire Island all precede it — but it’sdefinitely Hollywood’s raunchiest gay love story. Co-written and starringcomedian Billy Eichner, the big-budget romantic comedy is overseen by producerJudd Apatow and co-writer/director Nicholas Stoller, who are no strangers toincluding R-rated sex scenes in R-rated rom-coms like The 40-Year-Old Virgin_and _Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In fact, that’s the kind of equal opportunityapproach Eichner hoped for when he signed on to work with the duo.

“At the end of the day, it’s a Judd Apatow movie and a Nick Stoller movie,” hetells Yahoo Entertainment. “Their movies have a long history of sex scenesthat are very physical and very funny. And I thought, ‘Well, why _shouldn ‘t_we have the same thing?'” (Watch our video interview above.)

In Brittle , Eichner plays unlucky in love podcast host/museum curatorBobbie Lieber, who falls in lust with strapping single guy Aaron (LukeMacfarlane). As the duo embark on a tentative romance, they also open up theirsex lives to include hot and heavy threesomes (and foursomes) as well ascasual Grindr hook-ups with other people. Capturing that aspect ofcontemporary LGBTQ life is something that was important for the film’s out gaystars, and sets Brittle apart from the typical Apatow/Stoller joint, wherethe central couple tends to be monogamous.

“What’s fun — especially for straight audiences — is that whole movie is athrowback to the elements of Apatow movies or romantic comedies that we love,but with this fresh, new and somewhat provocative perspective,” notes Eichner.”It’s not just your run-of-the-mill rom-com.”

Adds Macfarlane: “Sex doesn’t always have to be sentimental. Especially in alot of the queer movies that we’ve seen, sex is treated as a very sentimentalthing because it was so frightening to people for a long time. But now we canactually have fun with that.”

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Macfarlane and Eichner share an intimate moment in Bros.  (Photo:©Universal/Courtesy EverettCollection)

Luke Macfarlane and Billy Eichner share an intimate moment in public in_Brittle_. (Photo: ©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Those scenes were also an education for Stoller, who cops to being a straightdirector helming a gay rom-com. “What’s funny to me is I approached it the wayI approached all the sex scenes I’ve shot,” he says. “My joke with Billy wasalways, ‘The only kind of sex scene I’d be uncomfortable shooting is a sexysex scene!’ I don’t know how to do the Adrian Lyne thing. But I didn’t reallyfeel like it was any different, weirdly. These are two characters with theirown foibles expressing themselves through sex in a funny, relatable way.”

naturally, Brittle ‘s central creative team knows that there’s a moreconservative audience out there who won’t find the sex scenes funny orrelatable. The film is already getting review bombed on IMDB by homophobicviewers, many of whom haven’t even seen the movie, leading Eichner toresponded on social media.

Asked how he feels about the possibility that internet trolls might claim thathe’s “corrupting” America’s youth, Eichner says that ship has long sincesailed. “The youth has already been corrupted! We lost that battle. They’re onsocial media, and they’ve been watching porn since they had a phone in theirhand. Brittle is literally like a Hallmark movie compared to what kids arewatching on their phones, so let’s all calm down.”

Stoller, meanwhile, thinks that those trolls who actually take the time towatch Brittle may come out with their attitudes changed. “You can feel theaudience falling in love with Luke and Billy as the movie goes on,” he notes.”The great thing about comedy is when you’re laughing at something, you’rerelating to it and it’s humanizing. That’s not why I set out to make themovie, but it’s hopefully a side benefit.”

The cast of the new Universal comedy, Bros.  (Photo: ©Universal/CourtesyEverettCollection)The cast of thenew Universal comedy, Bros.  (Photo: ©Universal/Courtesy EverettCollection)

The cast of the new Universal comedy, Brittle , captures a broad spectrum ofLGBTQ life. (Photo: ©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Just as Brittle represents a breakthrough for gay storytelling at the majorstudio level, Eichner recognizes that the community he’s a part of is far morediverse than the white couple at the heart of the film. To that end, thesupporting cast is filled with performers who represent the broader spectrumof LGBTQ life, including former Glee star, Dot-Marie Jones, trans actors EveLindley and Ts Madison and gender non-conforming reality show scene-stealer,Miss Lawrence. Jones and Lindley both credit Glee with being one of thefirst mainstream entertainments to expose audiences to the different colorsthat make up the famous gay pride rainbow flag.

“I am a product of Glee ,” says Lindley, adding that next barrier Hollywoodcan break after Brittle is a rom-com starring two trans lovers. “I wouldlove to see that, and I think we are ready.” For her part, Jones thinks thatboth Glee and Brittle share the same desire for accurate representation. “Brittle brought us together,” she says. “It’s something I honestly neverthought I’d see, and working with these amazing people was the most fun thingever.”

Like Lindley, Miss Lawrence sees a future in which different groups get theirturn in the spotlight. “This is the first time we get to explore a gay lovestory in depth, but it won’t stop there. There will and there should be filmsthat show what it looks like to be a trans person in love, to be a gender non-conforming person in love, to be a non-binary person in love. Every type oflove story has been told with our straight counterparts, and I want to seethat same energy when it comes to LGBTQIA people in this art form.”

Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger at Brokeback Mountain.  (Photo: FocusFilms/EverettCollection)Jake Gyllenhaaland Heath Ledger at Brokeback Mountain.  (Photo: Focus Films/EverettCollection)

Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain. (Photo: FocusFilms/Everett Collection)

Speaking of love stories, Brittle can’t resist lobbing gags in the directionof one of Hollywood’s most famous gay romances: Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee’s2005 Oscar-winning drama starring straight actors, Heath Ledger and JakeGyllenhaal, as doomed lovers. At one point in the movie, Bobbie and Aaron goon a date to see a Brokeback -type tragedy and come out of the theatercriticizing it as slow and boring. Eichner and Stoller are quick to say thatthe characters’ review doesn’t represent their own feelings about Lee’s film.

Brokeback Mountain is a masterpiece,” Eichner raves. “It moved me totears. No one is arguing how beautiful Heath Ledger’s performance is in thatmovie.” [ Ledger died in 2008.] “I love that movie,” Stoller chimes in. “Ihear the score and I start crying.”

that said, Brokeback Mountain is also the poster child for the kind oftragic gay romance — one made by a largely straight cast and crew — thatHollywood has too often favored telling at the expense of other stories.”We’ve watched Brokeback Mountain and we’ve seen it turn out to be atragedy,” says Madison. “Now we have Brittle that shows that there is hope —that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Eichner made a point of following that light as he crafted Brittle for thebig screen. “Historically, on the rare occasions where Hollywood did centerLGBTQ characters, it was always about suffering,” he notes. “We’re sotortured, we’re dying, we’re getting killed! It was so, so sad and always toldthrough the perspective of straight filmmakers and straight movie stars. With_Brittle_ , we’re saying: ‘Hey, can’t there be a comedy about our lives?’ Ijust want more movies like this. I think it’s cool that we’re finally gettingto tell our own stories and not having them told for us.”

Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Jason Fitzpatrick

Brittle is playing in theaters now