Actors Wright and Rowe had similar concerns, but meeting with Markowitz put their fears of cheesiness to rest. Wright knew that playing Zach would allow him a chance to really shine—not just as an actor but also as an experienced surfer and skateboarder. “I had three other good-paying jobs on the table,” says Wright, whose resume includes episodes of George Lopez, Boston Public, and NYPD Blue as well the memorable 1989 Paula Abdul music video Forever Your Girl (he was the cocky tyke on the motorcycle). “But this was something I knew would expand my acting,” His instincts were right on. “After the Outfest showing I got calls the next day from the heads of huge studios,” he says sheepishly.
For Rowe, who’s been riding the ebbs and flows of Hollywood for 13 years, the character of Shaun was a way to channel his artistic frustrations. “Sometimes you hit creative blocks,” says Rowe, who recently played a Secret Service agent in National Treasure: Book of Secrets. “Helping Zach reconnect with his art brought Shaun back to a place of creativity again. I really liked that.” Rowe also saw the film as a nice companion piece to his 1998 breakout gay film, Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss. “In Billy’s, I was the closeted object of affection,” says Rowe, who’s married to a decorator’s assistant and has a 5-year-old son. “Now, 10 years later, it was fun to turn the tables and be the pursuer of the hot young thing.”
That pursuit is rewarded in a stairway-to-bed love scene at Shaun’s beach house, when Zach finally decides to stop fighting his feelings and shows up unannounced and sexed-up. “I wanted for that moment to have urgency and sexual tension going on like crazy,” says Wright, “you know, when you just grab someone’s face and you bite their lip and you just look at them in the eyes and then do it again.” For the more intimate scenes, Markowitz says he pretty much let the actors go for it and find their own way. “The only thing I really gave them was the question, ‘Have you ever spent a whole day in bed with somebody?’ ” he recalls, “and they both worked off that beautifully.” Rowe didn’t actually realize how good he was in the sack until much later. “When the cameraman shot Trevor close-up, there was no room for me to be there,” he explains. “So I didn’t see what Trevor’s reaction to what I was supposed to be doing until we were actually watching it in a theater. I was like, Dude, everyone’s going to think I’m really great at giving head.” Isn’t that better than people thinking he’s lousy? “You’re right,” Rowe says, thinking it through. “That should be a badge of honor.”