It’s a tale as old as time: bigoted religious bed and breakfast owners refuse to give a gay couple a double room and have to pay through the nose as a result. Well, it’s a tale as old as 2013 anyway, when it actually happened, inspiring new horror-cum-com
It’s the case that made headlines: In 2013 gay couple Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy sued Christian bed and breakfast owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull for refusing to let them share a double room and, in what amounted to a triumph for gay rights, the owners were forced to pay damages for unlawful discrimination.
Martyn and Steven’s story tickled the fancy of filmmaker Joe Ahearne, whose new film B&B is a pitch-black horror comedy imagining the return of a fictional couple (in this case militant-minded Marc and his more demure partner Fred) to the Christian-run bed and breakfast that refused them a double bed the previous year.
The writer-director describes it as the leads from Withnail and I checking into the Bates Motel, with the former film’s Paul McGann playing a homophobic B&B owner whose gay son is terrified his secret will be revealed while, thanks to the presence of a foreboding and mysterious Russian guest, the couple fear they’re going to be hunted down.
Signing on as nervy Fred, Sean Teale was impressed by the Shallow Grave/Blood Simpleinspired tone. “It’s a cracking good story with two interesting characters we don’t often see in a thriller,” says the star of Skins and the new X-Men spin-off The Gifted. “I love how it balances scares with comedy and a thoughtprovoking story.”
Lively and outgoing in real life, the 25-yearold actor enjoyed playing the polar opposite, the sort of gay I to Tom Bateman’s Withnail.
“Of the two of them Fred’s the more reserved one,” he says. “Fred wouldn’t bother going back to a B&B that he’d been kicked out of previously. He knows exactly who he is and isn’t ashamed of it, but Marc is the more provocative of the two.”
It’s a very funny, at times really scary thriller but there are serious themes. “I hope audiences have a fun time watching it and that they come away thinking they’d never, ever go to a B&B that bans gay couples,” Sean says drolly, then adds: “But it highlights the prejudice
that still goes on and it’s unfathomable to me, with all the progress that’s been made, how anyone would ever discriminate against others because of their sexuality, their gender, their race or the fact their skin is even slightly lighter or darker.”
Fred is described by Marc as a drama queen, which the actor can definitely relate to. “Just ask my girlfriend or anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I absolutely can be a drama queen,” laughs the man who is of Venezuelan, Spanish and Welsh origins. “I think it comes with being an actor, plus my heritage means I’m very passionate. But I’m not squeamish and I love scary movies so I wouldn’t be hiding behind the sofa watching one.”
Best known as Nick Levan on Skins and Prince Condé on Reign, London-born Sean is really in the big league now thanks to a starring role on X-Men spin-off The Gifted. In the Fox TV show, which is set in an alternative universe to the film franchise, he plays Marcos Diaz aka Eclipse – a rebel mutant who turned to drug-smuggling after his parents rejected him.
The actor gets why the X-Men universe has such a strong LGBT+ fanbase. “The X-Men have always been used as a metaphor for social struggles. Instead of just being heroes that everybody admires, they’re victims of other people’s hatred and fear and suspicion purely because they’re different. I feel like that unfortunately resonates with the LGBT+ community because they’re often made to feel that way too when they shouldn’t be due to ignorant, archaic mentalities based on the fear of something unknown.”
Then there’s the outsider theme, with
Sean pondering: “These characters aren’t superheroes donning expensive metal suits or flying crazy vehicles to save the world from an unimaginable evil. They’re mutants not superheroes. They’re human beings who, by no fault of their own, happen to have the X-Gene and are being persecuted solely for being different.
“Our show is sort of a street view look at the X-Men universe and what it feels like to be an outsider on the run in a very dark, strugglefilled world.
“I’m sure at some point all of us have been made to feel like an outsider especially when growing up – I know I certainly did. It made me question a lot of things about myself and it’s quite poisonous, but I’m very fortunate to have the friends and family I have.”
It’s a dream role for Sean who, when asked what he’s most enjoying about the show, says: “Having superpowers doesn’t suck! They actually provide a whole different challenge to filming since so much is put in in post, so I’m relishing that. But with this show it’s not just the action sequences – I’m enjoying exploring the struggles these people are going through personally, and the hispanic side of myself too.”
Talk turns back to B&B and we wonder how Sean would react if, further down the line when and if he has a family, one of his children turned out to be gay? “I’d just want them to tell me. I hope I create a household where my children can be whoever they want to be because it makes no sense to me that anyone should be anyone other than who they are.”
As for if he’s ever had any horrendous bed and breakfast experiences himself, he thinks for a moment then concludes: “I must have had, though I’ve probably blocked them out of my mind. But I do remember one time when I was young staying at one with a bunch of friends and there were these strange tapping noises on the window. I grabbed a poker to fend off whoever or whatever might be making the noise and burned my hand.” He laughs. “You see, I can be a drama queen!”
“It’s unfathomable to me how anyone would ever discriminate against others because of their sexuality, their gender, their race or the fact their skin is even slightly lighter or darker.”