AT HOME WITH THE GAYS

In Ideal Home, a gay cou­ple un­ex­pect­edly find them­selves par­ents to a young boy. Both com­edy and disas­ter en­sue!

DNA Magazine - - CONTENT #221 - Jeremy Smith spoke to the film’s di­rec­tor, An­drew Flem­ing.

In Ideal Home, a gay cou­ple find them­selves par­ents to a young boy. Com­edy and disas­ter en­sue! We meet the film’s di­rec­tor, An­drew Flem­ing.

DNA: What made you de­cide that this was the story you wanted to tell at this time? An­drew Flem­ing: It was the char­ac­ters, Paul and Eras­mus. I tried to make a story hap­pen with them but it didn’t work un­til some­body sug­gested they have a kid. I fact, I was in a long-term re­la­tion­ship with a man and was liv­ing with his son from a mar­riage to a woman. I was liv­ing a life like this. Dif­fer­ent though; this isn’t an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, but I found I had a lot to say.

Would you iden­tify more with Eras­mus then? I’m Eras­mus on a good day. I’m Paul on a bad day.

Is Eras­mus based on any­one in real life?

No, though many peo­ple have pointed out sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Eras­mus and me but also be­tween Paul and me.

The ac­tors, Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd, are per­fectly cast. Did you have them in mind when you wrote the script?

I didn’t write with any­one in mind, which is odd be­cause I know Steve Coogan, he’s a good friend, we’ve made a movie be­fore, but it never oc­curred to me to write it for him. Then it was like a thun­der­bolt – who should play this part? Oh, Steve! I’m glad I didn’t have him in mind and that he made the role his own, rather than me try­ing to make it for him. Steve asked who else we should send the script to and the first per­son on our list was Paul Rudd. They’d worked to­gether

briefly in one scene in one movie and were mu­tual fans. They are both so good that they can make them­selves seem well cast in any part.

I was re­ally sur­prised at how nat­u­ral and be­liev­able they are.

I think they are im­i­tat­ing me.

I love the pearls of wis­dom Eras­mus gives to the boy, such as, “ev­ery­thing is tem­po­rary”. Where did that come from?

Some­body once said it to me and it blew my mind, so I wrote it down. I wish I’d thought of it.

You di­rected an episode of Ar­rested De­vel­op­ment, eas­ily one of the best TV come­dies of the last decade, and there’s a sim­i­lar manic, pace to Ideal Home. Can you comment on that?

I only did one episode of Ar­rested De­vel­op­ment and it was fun. It’s a dif­fer­ent style, but I ap­pre­ci­ate the com­pli­ment be­cause that show was so un­spar­ing, never sac­cha­rin and it was smart. We tried to do that in Ideal Home. There were a cou­ple of places where I was try­ing to make an emo­tional point but Steve and Paul just kept mak­ing faces at the idea. I’m glad they did be­cause I found that even if some­thing is funny it doesn’t un­der­cut the emo­tion. It was sim­i­lar on Ar­rested De­vel­op­ment where ev­ery­one is an A-player and you just let them go and they do great. It was the same with Paul and Steve.

I’ve heard that Steve is great at ad-lib­bing; did he cre­ate jokes on-set or was the script tightly stuck to?

Steve and Paul are both writ­ers so they had a lot of in­put ahead of time and came up with lots of great lines that are in the movie. They don’t make up stuff in the take, though, I guess I was oc­ca­sion­ally sur­prised. They are both more mea­sured than that. They are both in­sanely tal­ented.

You shot on lo­ca­tion in New Mex­ico. Was that im­por­tant to the story?

I set it in Santa Fe, selfishly, be­cause it’s one of my favourite places. Steve and Paul both fell in love with it. We also shot in Al­bu­querque, which is nearby. On their num­ber plates it says, “Land Of En­chant­ment” and it re­ally is. In fact, that’s what we were orig­i­nally go­ing to call the movie. Eras­mus is very English and I like the idea that he has come out to this beau­ti­ful place, put on cow­boy gear and is liv­ing the fan­tasy. I’ve ob­served Euro­peans, es­pe­cially English peo­ple, lov­ing the cow­boy vibe in Santa Fe. That’s funny to me.

How do you find liv­ing in the USA from an LGBT per­spec­tive dur­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion? When Trump was elected it woke ev­ery­body up, not just in the LGBTIQ com­mu­nity. Any per­son who didn’t vote for him was sur­prised and I can tell you that ev­ery­body has en­gaged more since. Ev­ery­body I know has be­come more po­lit­i­cal, and I cer­tainly have. The stakes are higher. I don’t think he is a par­tic­u­lar threat to the LGBTIQ com­mu­nity; I think he’s a threat over­all. I’m more wor­ried about the planet with him in the Oval Of­fice.

The movie goes quite deep to­wards the end, es­pe­cially the sub­plot of the older son in re­hab. Was it im­por­tant to have the happy end­ing with the child but then this lin­ger­ing, darker el­e­ment with the other son? Yeah. Steve and Paul are both so funny but the darker el­e­ment was cer­tainly in the script. I’m not in­ter­ested in full com­edy or full drama. I love drama that’s funny or com­edy that se­ri­ous. I love that space be­tween. Peo­ple have ei­ther said that it was fun­nier than they ex­pected or more se­ri­ous. It just de­pends on your ex­pec­ta­tions.

The trailer sug­gests a more comedic film. There’s a funny scene at the school in which the sub­ject of adop­tion comes up.

As a gay cou­ple it’s harder to adopt, but I liked the idea that Paul and Eras­mus are un­likely par­ents. This is what hap­pens to straight peo­ple: they have sex and then, oh, some­times there’s a kid. It just hap­pens. But this is also a love story and the kid is the cat­a­lyst. He’s al­ready pretty smart; he doesn’t re­ally change through the story. He’s got his act to­gether in a weird way.

He does start out ho­mo­pho­bic, doesn’t he? Maybe. He wants to sleep in the car rather than in their house, but then he has the hi­lar­i­ous scene at school where he’s teach­ing his class­mates things not to say to gay peo­ple. Hav­ing a kid with the gay cou­ple, and look­ing at their lives is comedic, but also speaks to a fear that gay par­ents may have that their child might not be ac­cept­ing.

When you were in a gay re­la­tion­ship and liv­ing with your part­ner’s son, was that a dif­fi­cult time? At the time we were an anom­aly. We didn’t know any other gay cou­ples that had chil­dren in their house, but it’s much more com­mon­place now. It has changed so much in 20 years. You just don’t blink when you see two guys or two women with a baby stroller. It’s a non-event, and that’s a great thing.

Hav­ing a kid with a gay cou­ple, and look­ing at their lives is comedic, but also speaks to a fear that gay par­ents may have that their child might not be ac­cept­ing.

Gay Dads – No Idea Eras­mus and Paul (Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan) with Jack Gore as Bill in Ideal Home.

Di­rec­tor and writer, An­drew Flem­ing.

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