Matt Bomer on His Character’s Viewpoint in “The Boys in the Band”
In 1970, William Friedkin (The Exorcist) directed the film adaptation of the 1968 Broadway play The Boys in the Band. Written by Matt Crowley, the story centers on a group of gay friends who reunite to celebrate one of their birthdays. When the host’s potentially closeted college roommate shows up uninvited, the evening is thrown into turmoil.
Considered among the first major American motion pictures to revolve around gay characters, the film received mostly favorable reviews but proved damaging to many of the careers of the actors, some gay, some straight, who later claimed they couldn’t get work afterward because of typecasting.
When Ryan Murphy was assembling his cast for the 2018 Broadway 50th anniversary revival, which went on to win the Tony Award that year for Best Revival of a Play, he was adamant that all the roles had to be played by out gay men, thus, securing the talents of such accomplished actors like Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, and Matt Bomer.
Now, these same actors have been brought back together for Joe Mantello’s filmed adaptation, a reunion, not only for the Broadway cast but for two Carnegie Mellon alumni, Quinto and Bomer.
“I was a year ahead of Matt,” recalls Quinto of their college days. “The unfortunate part was that we didn’t really get the chance to perform together back then because each class usually sticks to its own artistic track.”
Bomer, who took home the Golden Globe for another Murphy project The Normal Heart, offers up his own recollection about that college friendship as well as his take on his character’s viewpoint in the film.
I want to ask you about social dynamics. As this party unfolds, we see how each character takes on a role within that party. Some are very bitchy and catty, but your character, Donald, seems to get more introverted. He seemed to be the quiet observer.
I have to say that I would probably behave similarly to Donald in this instance. He really does seem to be the Horatio to Michael’s Hamlet. He is there to support him but knows when to bow out of the battle and when to come back at the end after the dust has settled. I think he has done enough work on himself that he is not without neuroses or faults. But can also see past those neuroses and have a sense of compassion for these other men in the room.
That room does prove explosive. Was there a moment that you think really shook Donald?
Bernard is one of his closest friends so there are moments that hit him particularly hard. There are shots that are fired, particularly from Harold (Quinto), that tells him that it is time to get out of the line of fire. I think I would probably behave similarly to Donald in those instances.
How fantastic was it to work with someone you went to college with?
Zachary was one of my closest friends I had in school and one of the first people I ever came out to. We had that moment in college and then 20 plus years later, we are doing Matt Crowley’s play on Broadway. That just made it extra surreal.