It's Halloween weekend, which makes it a perfect time for thrillers, but the latest queer one combines an American Horror Story sensibility with classic queer camp. In director James Kapner's first-time feature, The Estate, actor Chris Baker plays the spoiled and narcissistic son of a billionaire who grows tired of waiting for his inheritance. He joins forces with the delicious and absurdly hilarious Eliza Coupe (playing his father's most recent wife) in order to get rid of the family patriarch. Along comes a psychosexual bond with a super sexy hitman (Greg Finlay) and well, you get a lot of queers who slay. (Or are slain.) We chatted with Baker, who also wrote the film, about his campy masterpiece, which is in theaters now.
Eliza Coupe, Greg Finlay, and Chris Baker in The Estate film.
I enjoyed the campiness of the movie. How did you manage to strike a balance between camp, comedy, and thriller?
Tone is something the director, James Kapner, and I discussed from the beginning. We loved movies from the '90s like Wild Things and Cruel Intentions and more recently Gone Girl where the situation is serious but the characters are inadvertently funny. The audience can enjoy watching them do things they'd never do and say things they'd never say. We wanted the audience to be deeply invested in what happens next but the characters' viewpoint is so skewed that they can't help but laugh.
All solo photos of Chris Baker are by Jorden Keith.
You wrote and starred in this, and your character is clearly the most narcissistic of the bunch. Did you do method acting?
My character, Georgie, is definitely broken in ways that I am not but we have two things in common. One, we both love Speedos, and two, we both seek validation. As an actor and writer, I do crave the attention and the applause just like George, but fucking and killing are his methods whereas writing and performing are mine.
I loved it but did anyone go “ick, no” when you pitched this film since it has a pretty eye-raising twist?
There were definitely people who didn't want to meet with us during pre-production but that had more to do with the fact that James had never directed a feature before and I had never starred in one. Once people read the script and heard the vision for the movie, they went gaga for it.
We know what these characters would kill for. What would you kill for?
I'd kill to make another movie and another movie and build a body of work that can stand the test of time.
Eliza Coupe is one of my favorite actors, she’s my dream gal, even though she has so far only publicly dated men.
Girl, shoot your shot! You never know! I can text her and put in a good word [laughing].
Tell me about working with her.
Working with her was a dream come true. She's my comedy soulmate and truly one in a billion. She and I became besties literally 20 seconds after meeting, and she taught me so much about being in front of the camera. I will forever be grateful to her for taking a chance on us and playing Lux. It doesn't hurt that she is beyond fantastic in the movie and gets the biggest laughs.
Greg Finlay and Chris Baker in The Estate film.
Why should queers see this movie?
Because it's a great movie. I know I'm biased but this is a movie that's funny and sexy and thrilling and naughty and you really can't say that about any movie that's out there right now. The second reason is because there are no gay movies, ever. Everyone in my community is sick of being fed scraps from this industry that throws us a gay bone here and there. TV has made big strides but I'm tired of there being so little queer representation in movies. Movies like this don't get made but they will if our community shows up and sees it. That's how the industry changes and that's how we get to make more.
Catch the trailer for The Estate here: