Love Is All Around
BY Jeremy Kinser
July 15 2010 4:10 PM ET
Mistaken identity—that age-old plot device of romantic comedies—gets a fresh gay twist in the new film Is It Just Me? Nicholas Downs stars as Blaine, an unlucky-in-love newspaper columnist who meets Xander, the man of his dreams while signed onto an online dating site under his sexy go-go boy roommate’s profile. A battle of brain versus brawn soon ensues. Calciano and Downs chat with The Advocate about the appeal of their film, the responsibility that comes with portraying gay characters, and why LGBT film festivals still need support.
The Advocate: J.C., what inspired you to write Is it Just Me?
J.C. Calciano: I wrote a film I'd want to see. I love romantic comedies and sweet stories about people who find each other. I imagined a story that I'd want to happen to myself and figured would be make a sweet and entertaining movie and wrote the script from there. The character Blaine was based on myself back when I was a young writer and the story just evolved from a fantasy I had about finding love.
Nicholas, what attracted you to the film?
Nicholas Downs: The script is what initially attracted me. I was impressed because it was a genuine romantic comedy. Most gay films seem to be broad comedies or dramas, but a Hollywood style romantic comedy is rare. And the opportunity to play a romantic lead with such a great script just couldn't be passed up.
What distinguishes Is It Just Me? from all the other gay romantic comedies?
Downs: It has a lot of heart and has a universal theme that everyone can relate to whether gay or straight. In several screenings we have had people from all backgrounds say they completely relate to the character of Blaine. To have such a diverse group of people say that shows me that the story reaches out and connects us all in many ways.
What do you want audiences to take away from the film?
Downs: I think a lot of audiences take away a greater understanding about relationships. Audiences have remarked that they see the character of Blaine reflecting their own lives and insecurities. Often at a festival fans of the film will say, "I am so that character." I believe that Blaine rings true in a lot of us, and for that reason, the character was appealing for me to play.
Calciano: I'd be thrilled if they’re entertained and enlightened about relationships. The idea is to show how we all affect each other’s lives—sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. If the idea that we all are essential to each other’s happiness is conveyed, I'd be very happy.
Do you feel there’s an obligation for actors and filmmakers to portray LGBT characters accurately and honestly?
Downs: It’s extremely important. My goal is to show the world that there are a variety of LGBT people out there and not just the stereotypes that the media has portrayed in the past. I hope that by playing a character with universal appeal I can help wash away some of the stereotypes and show that we, as people, all go through the same feelings and emotions. We all have the same ups and downs.