GA Voice - - LGBT Atlanta -

Wil­liams plays Nolan Mack, a 60-year-old who has been mar­ried for decades to Joy (Kathy Baker) and has a safe, long-time job at a bank. One night while out driv­ing, he meets hus­tler Leo (Roberto Aguire) and his life changes.

Soesbe wrote this orig­i­nally 10 years ago and did a re­write three years ago. By that time he knew Wil­liams was at­tached. When he first wrote the script, he wrote it for Los An­ge­les and Nolan was a col­lege pro­fes­sor. He de­cided to keep the struc­ture the same, but changed the lo­cale.

“We felt that Los An­ge­les was too cos­mopoli­tan for the story to be hap­pen­ing in, and by putting Nolan in a less ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment than a col­lege cam­pus it was more dif­fi­cult,” he says. “It was filmed in Nashville but now it’s set in a name­less city.”

The young char­ac­ter of Leo was meant to be kind of a mys­tery.

“Leo was a cat­alytic force,” says Soesbe. “I in­ten­tion­ally un­der­wrote Leo; he is al­most like a ghost. Some­thing trau­matic has hap­pened to him. I think, in a pre-Stonewall age, Nolan shut him­self down when he was a cer­tain age and never ever de­vel­oped be­yond that point in de­vel­op­ing him­self. Leo rep­re­sents Nolan’s youth. He’s like a son to him. The fact that he is a hus­tler re­moves the ex­pec­ta­tion and in­ti­macy. He can’t be­come at­tached to him. They can keep a wall be­tween them.”

One of the ob­sta­cles fac­ing Nolan, Soesbe says, is that he grew up in an era where be­ing gay it­self was illegal. Soesbe, who is him­self gay, wrote the script in part be­cause of all the friends his age who did get mar­ried be­cause that was what so­ci­ety ex­pected of him.

“That hap­pened a lot,” he says. “There was so much pres­sure then. Be­ing gay was a neg­a­tive thing. You felt guilty, hor­ri­ble. I think a lot of gay men who loved a woman as a friend thought they could make it work. It was bet­ter than be­ing alone. Some have sur­vived; I know some men who are still in those re­la­tion­ships. Some blew up.”

He ad­mits many older men have told him that “Boule­vard” is their story – and younger au­di­ences have ac­knowl­edged the comin­gout process isn’t easy any­time. “It is grat­i­fy­ing,” he says.

Wil­liams was a Jul­liard-trained ac­tor who got no­ticed early for com­edy but was equally adept at dra­matic roles such as “Good Will Hunt­ing” - which won him an Os­car - and “One Hour Photo.”

“The com­edy was some­thing he did on the side first and then he re­al­ized that was so much of where his tal­ent laid,” says Soesbe. He also never shied away from gay roles in films such as “The Bird­cage” and “The Night Lis­tener.”

Soesbe wasn’t on the set for the 21-day shoot much – just three days – but talked to Wil­liams some dur­ing the time. He re­calls the ac­tor be­ing ex­tremely well pre­pared and some­one who brought pas­sion and re­search to his craft.

Wil­liams did see a rough cut of the film be­fore he passed and he posted on Face­book that he liked it. Soesbe hon­estly doesn’t know if the film would have got­ten a re­lease if Wil­liams had not passed away so un­ex­pect­edly.

“I don’t even know if it would,” he says. “To­day’s mar­ket is all about ex­plo­sions. Stu­dios are re­luc­tant to re­lease these small movies.”

The screen­writer’s own com­ing out process was bumpy. He went to gay bars grow­ing up but didn’t tell his fam­ily. His fam­ily was not ho­mo­pho­bic but they knew noth­ing about it.

“It just wasn’t part of their world,” he says. “My brother was very macho, maybe a lit­tle ho­mo­pho­bic when younger, but he is very gay-friendly now.”

He ad­mits that “Boule­vard” is the most per­sonal script he has ever writ­ten – his oth­ers have been TV and ca­ble movies and thrillers/genre pieces. Yet the ex­pe­ri­ence has given him mo­ti­va­tion to do more small-scale work like it. He re­cently fin­ished another script that deals with a gay char­ac­ter – this one a younger man and the oft-tur­bu­lent re­la­tion­ship with his fa­ther.

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