Bros director Nicholas Stoller pokes fun at straight actors playing gay for Oscars (including a certain policeman)
Nicholas Stoller; Harry Styles
“Queerbaiting” has become a mainstream concept, to the point where real-life human beings have been accused of a concept that was invented to apply to fictional characters. But certainly, real-life straight people have taken advantage of queerness in order to further their career in some way—particularly straight actors playing LGBTQ+ roles in pursuit of awards.
That phenomenon is roasted in Bros, Billy Eichner’s much-discussed “first” mainstream gay rom-com. Director Nicholas Stoller discussed the bit in a recent interview with The A.V. Club’s Jack Smart. “[It’s] really funny because we were doing it, and as we were shooting it, I was like, ‘This is a little bit of an old joke,’” he said of the Brokeback Mountain-esque parody referenced throughout Bros. “And then there’s a few of them this year! There’s always a few every year that are trying to win Oscars, like My Policeman.”
For the record, much of the My Policeman cast is reportedly part of the LGBTQ+ community, including David Dawson, Rupert Everett, and Emma Corrin. Harry Styles, who plays the titular policeman, has resisted labeling himself publicly (and has, in turn, been accused of “queerbaiting”). The older version of the policeman, Linus Roache, appears to be heterosexual (at least per this writer’s research).
Perhaps more interestingly, Stoller claims that they wanted to shoot an actual version of their Brokeback Mountain parody, but “we could not find any straight actor willing to do it.” He explains, “Because we’re making fun of the Oscars—so no actor wants that—and I’m sure they’ll all just go on to play gay parts. We couldn’t find anyone. And Billy and I at this point know a lot of famous people!”
“What we wanted to shoot was, we were going to make it very beautiful and have, you know, sun coming through. I scouted farmhouses and stuff. But then we couldn’t find anyone, to the point where it became hilarious,” he continues. “And it was something that Billy was much more sensitive to than I am. The fact that so many movies about the gay experience are tragedies and very dramatic, versus just playful and fun and funny—that was what we were making fun of.”