Monday, December 19, 2016
Casper Andreas the Friendly Director Discusses 'Kiss Me Kill Me,' Woody Allen, and Gay Cinema Oh My!
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks to a generous grant from the Andreas Foundation, Unreal TV soon will run a series of evergreen reviews of the Casper Andreas films that we all know and love. These include the one true "LA LA Land" film about a struggling actor.]
A recent telephone chat with producer/director/writer/actor/righteous dude Casper Andreas nicely confirmed that this European native is the best Swedish import since Ikea. How can you not love a textbook handsome devil who sincerely laughs at all your jokes?
Andreas kindly granted this interview to discuss his new (Unreal TV reviewed) pink noir film "Kiss Me Kill Me." "Kiss" revolves around the light camp tale of the live-in boyfriend of reality-show producer Stephen (played by "Queer As Folk" stud Gale Harold) trying to solve the murder of Stephen for which the boyfriend is facing the bad type of "Oz" existence.
Even the proverbial casual observer can note the numerous similarities regarding the work of one-time New York resident Andreas and that of Woody Allen. Both quadruple threats base their films on their real-life experiences at that time, appear in those movies, and use many of the same actors to portray those tales.
When asked whether Allen inspired his work, Andreas replied that "its an amazing comparison I've heard before" and added that "I'm not trying to be Woody Allen." He then giggled and expressed awe regarding Allen achieving the arduous task of making a film a year every year.
Andreas went on to entertain with a perfect Allen impression in the context of Allen directing Andreas in the 1998 Allen film "Celebrity." Andreas played the wardrobe assistant of the character whom Melanie Griffith portrayed, and Andreas hilariously imitated Allen using his well-known neurotic and anxious tone to tell Andreas to simply do what feels right in a scene.
Andreas further enhanced this terrific story by saying that he then asked Griffith for guidance and that she provided more specific instruction. This led Andreas to share that he often jokes that both Allen and Griffith have directed him.
Asking Andreas to name his favorite Allen film elicited enthusiastic love for "Midnight in Paris." He expressed praise for the performance of Owen Wilson and stated that the film "spoke to me so much being a dreamer artist."
Brian and Randy Together Again?
Continuing the subject of comparisons included discussing the strong similarities between Stephen and Harold's Brian Kinney in "Queer." This prompted asking Andreas if he considered casting Randy Harrison, who played infinitely on-again off-again Harold love interest Justin in "Queer," as the semi-Justinesque boyfriend in "Kiss."
Andreas candidly replied "I don't remember if it came up" and expressed concern regarding casting Harold and Harrison in roles that resembled their "Queer" characters.
Andreas also stated that (frequent collaborator) "Kiss" writer/dog lover/equally righteous dude David Michael Barrett did not create the role of Stephen with Harold in mind. He added that a real-life reality-show producer whom Barrett knew was an inspiration for the character.
Andreas discussing the enthusiasm of Harold for playing Stephen was a highlight of the interview. Anyone who knows of Harold either through his "Queer" years or his being a real-life straight man who is exceptionally fantastic about fully embracing playing a gay character can picture the zeal that Andreas stated that man whom so friends of Dorothy adore showed on coming in to meet about portraying Stephen.
Andreas stated that Harold communicated that he understood both Stephen and the other characters in the film. The only valid response to that was that Harold had played Stephen and interacted with many of the other main characters for five years.
Gay for Equity Pay
Both the aforementioned awesome attitude of Harold and a personal experience interviewing a presumably straight man who communicated intense discomfort discussing his gay character and was very evasive regarding his voluntary statements as to his personal sexual orientation prompted asking Andreas for his thoughts regarding straight actors who still are uncomfortable playing gay roles in 2016.
Andreas expressed that it was unfortunate when actors resisted doing publicity when making a gay-oriented film such as "Kiss." This man who has a handful of such movies under his belt surprised this writer with a handful of celebrity interviews under his in stating that the most common case of such reticence was gay actors who played gay characters. Andreas explained that these men did not the press to out them.
Andreas further shared his terrific humor in stating that the aforementioned gay actors coming out after their movie had moved on to DVD release prompted the tongue-in-cheek reaction that they could have supported the film if they had not been so closeted when that project came out.
Andreas then praised "straight actors who play gay characters and are fine with discussing sexuality." A personal comment on this is let's hear it for the boys; let's give the boys a hand.
Discussing actors in general and the "Kiss" cast specifically led to conversing about Matthew Ludwinski, who played the awesomely named villain Craigery. Craigery having bleached-blonde hair, being tall and thin, and wearing black leather vests and pants led to asking Andreas if '80s rocker Billy Idol inspired the character.
Andreas graciously replied that he and Barrett based Craigery on the blonde bombshells of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The rest of this True Hollywood Story was that Barrett and Andreas had seen Ludwinski with bleached hair for another role several months before filing "Kiss" and had asked him if he would go blonde again for "Kiss." The rest of this tale is that this trouper eagerly agreed to once again have the carpet not match the drapes for the sake of his art.
Understanding the Vision
A silly misunderstanding being integral to "Kiss" made a similar real-life error in the Andreas interview an apt way to wrap up the portion of our discussion on that film. The mistake regarding Idol providing the model for Craigery prompted joking whether Andreas hated it when reviewers did not "get" his films.
Rather than discuss the Idol issue, Andreas stated that he got "frustrated when reviewers do not get movies right." He further observed that "straight reviewers not getting it at all is upsetting." This relates to the awesome current state of queer cinema regarding a character being gay having a variable scale of relevance to a film and the sex in these films often have significant meaning.
LA LA LAND
On a similar but happier note, Andreas stated that he liked the new "La La Land" musical and was not upset that it was a variation of his 2011 (soon to be reviewed by Unreal TV) film "Going Down in La La Land." The first (and best?) centers around an aspiring actor moving from New York to Los Angeles only to end up literally (and symbolically) prostituting himself and making porn movies. The fact that "Going" is oft compared to "Boogie Nights," which can be considered an update of "A Star is Born," illustrates how one film can lead to another.
Andreas further stated that he hoped that the new film led more people to his film, which he (and your not-so-humble reviewer) state is based on real-life more than the musical.
The real-life (no pun intended) happy ending regarding this topic is that the experience of Andreas on moving from The Big Apple (where his stage roles included Romeo and Hamlet) to La La Land did not mirror those of rent boy Nick in "Going." It is fantastic when the good guy succeeds.
The Dickinson You Say
Andreas wrapped up our delightful chat with discussing a biopic of 19th century poet Emily Dickinson on which he is working with writer/director/longtime Andreas friend Madeleine Olnek. He explained that the film stars Molly Shannon of SNL and "Kath and Kim" fame and focuses on the not-oft-discussed topic of the lesbian love story of Dickinson.
The back story of this film is that Olnek wrote the story as a play and has been trying to get it made as a film for years. Andreas added that his collaborator already filmed portions of the movie when she recruited him.
Andreas came on board when Olnek asked him to be a producer. He added that this is the first time that he has produced a film that he did not direct and act in. One can only hope that reviewers all along the Kinsey scale get this one right.
Ciao for Now
The recap above does not do justice to the charm and the friendliness of this boy named Casper who entertained and engaged the day before heading off for an extended Christmas visit to Sweden. Gay men everywhere should be glad to have this filmmaker delightfully sharing his personal tales of the city. Fingers are crossed for a gaytastic take on Stockholm Syndrome.