Come to Jesus With Star Heather Matarazzo
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
December 03 2011 5:35 AM ET
Trashtastic meets indie spunk in the quirky new film Mangus! from Ash Christian (the acclaimed gay director of Fat Girls). Coming out on DVD Tuesday from Wolfe Video, Mangus! stars two irrepressible actresses LGBT viewers can’t get enough of: Jennifer Coolidge (who went all lesbo in Best in Show) and Heather Matarazzo (who starred in The L Word and The Princess Diaries and, most excitingly, plays a lesbian in real life, too). In Mangus! Ryan Nelson Boggus plays a kid who desperately wants to continue a family tradition by playing Jesus in his school play. But when life kicks him down, his friends and family (Matarazzo is his sister in the flick) — and a few others who have key cameos, including John Waters and Leslie Jordan — help him rally back again.
We caught up with Matarazzo to talk about love interests, rocking bodies, her new TV show, and realizing she was gay at 11 (while on a movie set!). Her one condition? We had to promise to share her Twitter handle: heathermatarazz.
The Advocate: Mangus! is about a kid who desperately wants to play Jesus in the high school musical, but the movie doesn't feel religious in any way.
Heather Matarazzo: Yeah, it wasn't meant to be religious at all. The filmmaker is Ash Christian, and he’s a really big fan of, and his heart is in, stories about small towns and character-driven pieces that deal with idiosyncrasies and the like, so this was just a version of that.
I think the film has a campy absurdism to it that John Waters's fans will enjoy. Is that a tough style to pull off?
No, I don't think so. I feel that if you're good at your job regardless of what that job is, the tonal quality of any film, whether it be campy or serious or straight comedy, that shouldn't really matter. And the truth of the matter is, when you get to work with really great people like Leslie Jordan or Jennifer Coolidge, it's very, very easy.
Your character is a 20-something bleached-blond lesbian named Jessica Simpson. Tell me how you envisioned her.
She is pretty much a girl who is suffering from an identity crisis. She's trying to make her way in the world, and she thought, Well, let me try being a lesbian for a second and see how that works out. I envision her being high-class white trash — or at least she thinks she is — and she thinks she has a grander view of the world than perhaps she actually does. At the end of the day, she has a heart of gold, and for all of her rough edges, she is still pushing that wheelchair and still trying to help her brother to achieve his dreams.
You have a very funny sex scene with a girl in an ice cream truck. Were there any more of those scenes that got left on the cutting room floor?
Nope, that was the only one.
Well, it was a hilarious scene.
Thank you. I'm glad.
The beloved Jennifer Coolidge played your mom in the film.
It was my second time working with her. We did The Women together on Broadway in 2001-2002. Ash and I, from the beginning, really wanted her to be a part of this project, and luckily she said yes. And it was a great reunion and we had a lot of fun.
Mangus is a kid who really wants to continue certain family traditions. What sorts of family traditions do you hope to continue?
I don't know how to answer that question. For me, traditions get to grow and evolve as people get to grow and evolve. And obviously the holidays are all about being with family, but I don't know if that's a tradition per se, it's just something that's ingrained. There's no like, weird, crazy family tradition that we have.