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Bros’ Billy Eichner was told to be ‘less gay’ by a manager

The actor says Universal, who made his gay rom-com Bros, "never once" said that.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Universal

Bros‘ writer and star, Billy Eichner has shared that he was once told by how own manager in 2006 that he should make a comedy show “less gay” to impress other agents. 

The actor and comedian, 43, also says that it’s “f***ed up” that he is the first openly gay man man “to ever write and art in his own studio movie of any genre.” 

Bros sees Eichner star as podcaster 40-something Bobby Leiber, who meets the dashing Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) and the two try and figure out how compatible they are. 

In his cover interview with Variety ahead of Bros‘ release in the US this September Billy goes on to say that he was “never once” told by executives at the Hollywood studio Universal that anything was “too gay”. 

Up until Bros, however, Billy says his experience was “overflowing with that type of thing” from execs, agents, and more. His experience scarily but perhaps unsurprisingly given what we know of Hollywood echoes that of his Bros co-star Luke Macfarlane.

He then explains that his manager in 2006 – who he describes as a straight woman in NYC “with a tonne of gay friends” – told Billy to “make my live show less gay because agents from William Morris were coming”. 

He was told by another exec later that the theme tune for his popular online series Billy On The Street was “too gay” and should be replaced “with a hip-hop song so the show feels relevant.'”

Billy continues, “I was like, ‘That makes absolutely no sense.’ That was an out-of-touch person who was desperate to feel important. There was a reason he worked at a very obscure cable network.”

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Billy also details how others told him he was “too ambitious” and “too smart”.

“I bet no one’s ever told Ryan Reynolds he’s too smart,” he continues. “And then I realised over time ‘Oh, they mean something else’.”

He thinks things evolved after shows like Will & Grace but not under the surface. He proves this by pointing out that Bros is the first gay rom-com from a major studio and that it’s happening in 2022.

Will & Grace started airing in 1998.

He also doubted that a studio like Universal would make this type of movie in an authentic way. As for how people can relate to it Billy argues that making it specific makes it universal and relatable. 

“Universal has a rom-com with George Clooney and Julia Roberts [Ticket to Paradise] coming out a month after Bros,” says Eichner. “But no one is going to ask Julia Roberts and George Clooney, ‘Are you worried that gay people are going to relate?'”

Elsewhere in his interview, Billy says he thinks Bros will be “eye-opening for certain people,” which he adds is great. “Let’s surprise people. Let’s shock them.” 

On a more serious note, he addresses concerns that LGBTQ protections in the US, like same-sex marriage, are under threat following the repeal of Roe vs Wade. 

“We’re always going to have to keep fighting. We’re even going to have to keep fighting for the handful of rights that we managed to acquire, because every time we make progress, the other side gets scared and pushes back.”

He also teases his next projects, which include working on a comedy about two gay men getting divorced, currently called Ex-Husbands, as well as a film about the life of Paul Lynde.

Check out Billy’s interview with Variety below:

Bros will be out in UK cinemas on 28 October.

The Attitude September/October issue is out now.