The cre­ators

GT (UK) - - LOOKING - WORDS JONATHAN WALIK / RYAN BUTCHER IMAGES ANNA ALEXIA-BASILE / HBO

Michael, how did Look­ing come about? It was a fea­ture film script that I wrote based on sto­ries from the peo­ple I knew in my 20s. I just wanted to tell a story about three friends that felt nat­u­ral­is­tic and more rel­e­vant to the gay friends I had. Are there any gay-ori­ented shows that you were in­spired by? We had a talk at HBO about some of the shows we liked, like the Bri­tish Queer as Folk and Chan­nel 4’s Tales of the City. There hadn’t been a show cen­tred around gay peo­ple for a long time in the US, so we had a big op­por­tu­nity in front of us. Peo­ple thought of Look­ing as quite rev­o­lu­tion­ary. Do you think it still should be in 2015? The world’s changed so quickly in the past five years and we felt it was the right time to cap­ture the change in the cul­ture. One of the ques­tions we wanted to ask is, ‘What hap­pens when we’re wel­comed into the main­stream?’ Sud­denly you have the old op­tions and the new ones. In some ways, it’s eas­ier to be a part of a When you’re the cre­ator of one of the best-loved shows for a gen­er­a­tion, you’re bound to be un­der pres­sure when it comes to a sec­ond se­ries. As we all know, the gay au­di­ence is a tough cookie to crack. But when we catch up with Michael Lannan, the show’s cre­ator, writer and pro­ducer, he’s calm, col­lected and, urm, “sur­rounded by ze­bras,” ap­par­ently. At least it’s safe to say there’ll be more an­i­mals the sec­ond time around… sub­cul­ture and not have to deal with some of the things that straight peo­ple do. How dif­fi­cult was it to achieve the sense of re­al­ism and re­lata­bil­ity? The goal from the start was al­ways do a very nat­u­ral­is­tic show that felt very re­lat­able to a lot of peo­ple. Some of the best com­pli­ments we get are when peo­ple say, ‘I to­tally know Pa­trick,’ or ‘I am Agustín.’ Well I guess not so many peo­ple claim to be Agustín. It’s al­ways a bal­ance to find a level of re­al­ism and to keep the story mov­ing for­ward. We spent a lot of time in the de­tails of the char­ac­ters to make it feel real. Who do you re­late to most on the show? I re­late to all of them in some way, which I know is a bor­ing an­swer, but it’s true! I can tell you who I’d most like to be which is a great new character we have played by Daniel Franzese named Ed­die. That’s who I’d like to be. He’s de­light­ful and com­pli­cated and a lot of fun. I think peo­ple will like him a lot.

An­drew, how did you get in­volved with Look­ing? Michael called me out of the blue and I was sent the script for the pi­lot. They’d seen Week­end and they felt it was the right mar­riage of the script and what the movie was. Two days later, I was on a plane to LA and it hap­pened from there! Ini­tially I was only di­rect­ing the pi­lot, but then it be­came a lot more than that. It kinda came from nowhere – I didn’t know Michael or any­body! Jonathan Groff told us that he knew he was in safe hands when shoot­ing the sex scenes, be­cause he was work­ing with you and he’d seen Week­end. How did you ap­proach them? To me, in­ti­macy is al­ways the most im­por­tant thing. I never like to show sex scenes for gra­tu­itous rea­sons or if they don’t make any sense to me in terms of the story. If any­thing, sex scenes usu­ally take you out of the story. We have sex as in­di­vid­u­als, to be in­ti­mate with with some­one – or some­times to es­cape After cap­tur­ing the hearts and minds of gay au­di­ences with his mod­ern day clas­sic Week­end, it seemed only nat­u­ral for An­drew Haigh to go on to work with Michael Lannan on Look­ing. After di­rect­ing the pi­lot, he was ap­pointed the show’s di­rec­tor and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer, with his own uniquely beau­ti­ful visual style be­com­ing in­te­gral to the show. Oh, and he’s also the one we’ve got to thank for the su­perbly­done sex scenes... in­ti­macy – de­pend­ing on the kind of sex you’re hav­ing. But it’s al­ways im­por­tant to me that it feels like what it’s ac­tu­ally like to have sex. That it feels in­ti­mate, close and some­times ten­der, or some­times not ten­der, what­ever it is. But it’s about try­ing to make it feel more real. I don’t think gay sex on screen over the years re­ally re­flects in­ti­macy at all, and that’s al­ways been a prob­lem. And I think it’s prob­a­bly, be­cause of that, why peo­ple tend to think about gay sex in a cer­tain way. It’s been 16 years since Queer as Folk, and it was quite a big thing then to show that gay peo­ple DO have sex. But now it seems to be the big thing to show that gay peo­ple have in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships. It’s just about show­ing the world that gay peo­ple have the same love for each other that straight peo­ple do. It’s only ten years since the majority of the pop­u­la­tion thought that the love two men have for each other, or two women have, wasn’t the same as with a man and a woman. One of the big things ev­ery­one loved about Look­ing was its visual style. How did you ap­proach the aes­thet­ics of the sec­ond se­ries? We cer­tainly didn’t want to do ex­actly the same, but nei­ther did we want to change any­thing dra­mat­i­cally. For me, the vi­su­als of some­thing should al­ways re­late to what’s hap­pen­ing to the char­ac­ters, so as the sto­ry­lines be­came slightly big­ger, I wanted the visual to be­come slightly big­ger. How much did you re­late to the script and the char­ac­ters? Be­ing the two Brits, the ob­vi­ous com­par­i­son would be Rus­sell Tovey’s character Kevin... That’s funny! I’ve been think­ing as well, ‘Oh, peo­ple are go­ing to think he’s based on me.’ It’s not me! But peo­ple see them­selves in the char­ac­ters be­cause they all make flawed de­ci­sions. No­body is all good and no­body is all bad. And fi­nally, are you Team Richie or Team Kevin? I have a pref­er­ence... But what’s in­ter­est­ing about this sea­son is that it makes it more dif­fi­cult to be on ei­ther team. I think sea­son one, it seemed pretty ob­vi­ous that some­one would be Team Richie. But it gets messier this sea­son, so it makes who you think Pa­trick should be with more com­pli­cated – if ei­ther of them at all!

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