The relatable intimate nature of (the Unreal TV reviewed) "Lazy Eye," which is available on VOD and playing in Los Angeles and New York ahead of a wider rollout, made a chance for a telephone interview with "Eye" star Lucas Near-Verbrugghe a special treat. The aforementioned intimacy relates to the reunion between 30-something graphic designer Dean (whom Near-Verbrugghe portrays well) and the proverbial "one who got away" 15 years earlier. This "lost love" is in the form of MBA Alex, whom Aaron Costa Ganis portrays well.
The initial bit of trivia from the interview with Broadway star Lucas is that he and Aaron are fellow graduates (but not classmates) of the New York University Graduate Acting Program.
Art v. Commerce
The combination of the reel-life debate regarding art vs. commerce in an era in which most studio films either are horrible superhero "epics" or other fare that values profit over quality and the "Eye" element of Alex confronting Dean about abandoning art in favorite of the more lucrative world of graphic design provided a good chance to ask stage actor Lucas about his thoughts on art vs. commerce. His initial response that that was an interesting conversation that he was constantly having with himself indicated that he was in the profession primarily for the art.
Lucas subsequently shared that "I got my start in theater and have always been driven to it as my first love." He added that he "always believed in having a career that is balanced." A related comment was that "I think that there is something you get in theater and films; I love both."
This thespian in the truest sense of the word adding that producer/writer/director Tim Kirkman providing the cast a longer-than-average rehearsal period before beginning filming reinforced the sense that this movie with a strong live-stage vibe values art over commerce.
The remark regarding the extended rehearsal time opened the door to ask if Lucas and Aaron had extra time to rehearse sex scenes, which included a highly erotic and passionate encounter almost immediately on their coming face-to-face for the the first time in 15 years. Lucas aptly replied that "shooting a sex scene is a tricky beast; I think of it as choreography more than anything else."
Lucas added that he and Aaron "wanted to create compassion that feels real" and that they "sort of did not rehearse." He added that the fulfilled trust regarding the sex scenes included realized confidence that the camera would capture the good angles.
A predictable lighter aspect of this discussion centered around Lucas commenting that the outtakes from this portion of the filming must be hilarious. This related to limbs and other appendages almost certainly accidentally poking and prodding in unintended (but hopefully not painful) manners.
Not Another Gay Movie
Discussing the sex scenes and other intimate aspects of "Lazy" led to conversing about the prominent theme that the fact that the reunited lovers are men does not make the film a gay movie. He stated that "I didn't see the script as a gay movie. I really read it as a human film that was relatable even to a heterosexual relationship." He then emphasized that the film "focuses on the reconnection of relationships," that "sexuality is not the main focus," and that "you can have a gay character in a role without it being about being gay."
Lucas also noted that the lead characters had "a very strong intimate connection" and noted in the context of their past that "memory distorts things."
Lucas additionally shared that nothing in the movie was autobiographical regarding him. Lucas added that Tim "had a situation that was somewhat similar" to the events that "Eye" depicted.
The removal of the stigma associated with straight men playing homosexual roles and noting that Lucas (who validly does not openly discuss his sexual orientation) has played gay and straight characters prompted asking him about that aspect of acting. He responded that "the sexual orientation of an actor or a role has never been an issue" for him. He added that "one thing I love as an actor is to emphasize and step into the shoes of someone else."
The Ex Factor
The universal nature of the "Eye" story prompted asking Lucas if the project inspired him to track down any of his former significant others. He wittily replied that he did not "think I had any exes I was chomping at the bit to reconnect with. He did share the story of seeing the person to whom he lost his virginity at the age of 17 several years after that encounter.
Lucas noted as well technology played a role in societal changes over the past 15 years, noting that he did not have access to the Internet until he was in college.
Treading the Boards
Discussing the current project of Lucas brought our talk back to the original topic of art vs commerce. He is starring in the play "Iceberg," which opens at the Geffen Theater in Los Angeles on November 16, 2016. He plays the husband in a straight professional couple that is concerned about having a baby in this era of climate change and other tough situations.
Asking in this pre-election day interview if the play would reflect the result, Lucas stated that the production was not about the election. He did share that "the whole election cycle make me not want to have children ever."
Seeing Eye to Eye
The 30 minutes spent talking with Lucas reinforced that he was the perfect choice for Dean. Both men have pondered the fact that their lives did not take them where they expected in their youth that they would have but that they overall are happy where they ended up.