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Down Low director Rightor Doyle: ‘I wanted to make a really gay movie for really gay people’

Exclusive: The director also talks about working with the movie's stars Zachary Quinto and Lukas Gage

By Dale Fox

Still from Down Low showing Zachary Quinto and Lukas Gage sitting on the ground in towels
Zachary Quinto and Lukas Gage star in Down Low (Image: Provided)

Down Low is a recent dark comedy movie starring gay heart throbs Zachary Quinto and Lukas Gage. After Quinto’s character Gary hires Cameron (Gage) to give him a (very adult) massage, things take a macabre turn when someone ends up dead. However, this leads the pair on a hilarious yet touching journey of discovery about themselves.

Here, Attitude chats with the movie’s director Rightor Doyle on making this “really gay movie”, the most fun scene to film, and whether casting queer actors in queer roles is important.

What was it like to work with Zachary Quinto and Lukas Gage?

Zachary Quinto and Lukas Gage relax on the set of Down Low
Zachary Quinto and Lukas Gage relax on the set of Down Low (Image: Rightor Doyle/Instagram)

Terrible! No, it was wonderful – it really was. You know, I had known both of them individually prior to making the movie. It’s a small gay world. I just love them. They’re both incredibly professional and really lovely, lovely people. We made this movie in about 20 days, as quick as we could, and they were so game.

What’s Down Low about?

It’s a movie about a repressed gay man (Gary, played by Zachary Quinto) and the guy that he invites over to give him a massage (Cameron, played by Lukas Gage). There’s some darker elements to it that come along in the movie, but it starts as this kind of weird buddy relationship then evolves – or devolves, depending on how you think of it.

Does it contain any real-life inspiration?

Still from Down Low showing Zachary Quinto and Lukas Gage covered in mud holding shovels
“It’s a small gay world. I just love them” (Image: Provided)

I’m sure Phoebe Fisher and Lukas Gage, who wrote it, had their own inspiration. For me, I saw in the script so many opportunities to talk about some of the things around being gay or growing older and life passing you by – things that are relevant to me.

Who’s the target audience of Down Low?

I wanted to make a really gay movie for really gay people. I think the movie doesn’t apologise for the inside-jokiness of itself. There’s so many layered jokes in it – one of my favourite jokes is about Tiffany Pollard. When we were making it, we found it really resonates with a gay audience. And we didn’t want to have to explain ourselves or apologise for ourselves at every turn. I also think the movie is for anyone, if they choose to see themselves in it.

Have people resonated with the characters?

Yes, surprisingly so. The movie is really dark and funny, so sometimes you think, ‘Well, this is a really big swing, and I wonder if people will find themselves in this film.” And they do – I’m grateful for that. I have a really dark sense of humour and I also find a lot of beauty in comedy and beauty in tragedy, and they’re mashed together in this movie.

Zachary Quinto is known for his serious roles. How was it for him to let loose in Down Low?

I knew him personally before I knew him professionally, and I’d say I’ve always known Zach to be a really funny, quirky, cool person. It was so fun to watch him get to be lighter and get to be as funny as he is. It was the perfect role to do that. The character starts off quite serious and then evolves into this person, so it was really neat to see him be able to spread his wings in that way because he’s just the best.

What was the most fun scene to film?

Still from Down Low showing Judith Light sitting on a chair wearing a pink cardigan
Judith Light stars in Down Low (Image: Provided)

Anything with Judith Light. She’s incredible and she came in for three days and just knocked it out of the park. She’s so inventive and surprising. When she talks about Sex and the City, I think is probably the biggest laugh we’ve ever had on set.

Was it important to you that queer actors were cast in these queer roles?

I started as an actor myself and I was often relegated to, you know, ‘funny gay guy on the left’ in my career. What I’ve sought out as a creator and a director in Bonding and my other work is to put queer people front and centre and to have those people be representative of who they are. I don’t believe that every person who plays a gay role has to be this or has to be that. But I do believe in using my power as a queer creative person to make those determinations as intentionally as I can.

Your friend Gus Kenworthy told Attitude he’d love to play the lead in a gay rom-com. Would you like to work with him on that?

Sure. Well, if someone gives you the money – that’s the thing. It’s a business. So if someone gives you money, you can go ahead and make the thing. But there’s a lot of compromise and a lot of concessions. I think something the internet doesn’t understand is that there’s not just one person making one decision to allow you to do the thing that you want to do. There’s hundreds of people who go into the decision-making around casting, money. I’d obviously love to work with [Gus] and make something, but it’s so much more complex than ‘Let’s go make the thing!’ you know?

Down Low is available to rent or buy on digital now.