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The Boys in the Band: Meet the characters

Ryan Murphy's all-gay remake arrives on Netflix this Wednesday (30 September).

By Will Stroude

With the arrival of The Boys in the Band on Netflix now just days away, we thought it was high time to get better acquainted with the cast of characters that make up the seminal gay drama.

Often cited as a milestone in the history of queer cinema, hit off-Broadway show The Boys in the Band was first adapted into a movie back in 1970 and was among the first major American motion pictures to revolve around gay characters.

First announced last year, Ryan Murphy’s film remake of Mart Crowley’s seminal 1968 play features an all-star (and all-gay) cast of greats including Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Charlie Carver, Andrew Rannells, Tuc Watkins and Michael Benjamin Washington.

The cast all appeared in Joe Mantello’s Tony Award-winning Broadway production in 2018, and Mantello is back in the director’s chair for the film adaptation.

In the Attitude October issue – out now to download and to order globally – the actors open up about what Crowley’s work still has to say about LGBTQ life in 2020, and reveal more about their characters for those unfamiliar with the story.

An official synopsis for the new remake reads: “In 1968 New York City – when being gay was still considered to be best kept behind closed doors – a group of friends gather for a raucous birthday party hosted by Michael (Jim Parsons), a screenwriter who spends and drinks too much, in honor of the sharp-dressed and sharp-tongued Harold (Zachary Quinto).

“Other partygoers include Donald (Matt Bomer), Michael’s former flame, now mired in self-analysis; Larry (Andrew Rannells), a randy commercial artist living with Hank (Tuc Watkins), a school teacher who has just left his wife; Bernard (Michael Benjamin Washington), a librarian tiptoeing around fraught codes of friendship alongside Emory (Robin de Jesús), a decorator who never holds back; and a guileless hustler (Charlie Carver), hired to be Harold’s gift for the night.

“What begins as an evening of drinks and laughs gets upended when Alan (Brian Hutchison), Michael’s straight-laced college roommate, shows up unexpectedly and each man is challenged to confront long-buried truths that threaten the foundation of the group’s tight bond.”

Find out more about the characters of The Boys in the Band (in the words of the actors portraying them) below:

Zachary Quinto is ‘Harold’

“He is the honorary of the party, and probably the most self-aware of the guys.

“He’s someone who has transmuted his self-loathing into power. He knows himself completely through and through, for all of his shortcomings and all the things about himself that he hates.”

Jim Parsons is ‘Michael’

“He is a screenwriter from the South, living in New York. In this specific instance, he is hosting a birthday party for his friend Harold, and that’s why he has brought everyone together.

“He’s also currently sober and not smoking.”

Matt Bomer is ‘Donald’

“Donald is the long-suffering, ever-faithful ex/close friend of Michael, who is trying to see byond his current life circumstances, but doesn’t necessarily make the best choices for himself.”

Michael Benjamin Washington is ‘Bernard’

“Bernard is an intellectual in New York City, he is a librarian, he is a quiet, more repressed spirit.

“I think people will call him a wallflower, the guy in the room that can be in the room and doesn’t need to be ‘on’ and get all the attention.”

Andrew Rannells is ‘Larry’

“Larry thinks of himself as the life of the party, most of the time. But Larry and hank are the only two in a relationship, so there is a traditional side to Larry as he’s willing to engage in that.

“He struggles with that, to make it all make sense. He wants to have his own life, but he’s obviously very much in love with Hank, but he struggles with monogamy.”

Tuc Watkins is ‘Hank’

“Hank leaves his wife and children to be with Larry. He gives up all that he has because he can no longer live and unauthentic life.

“Early on, Ryan Murphy suggested that Hank is the ‘Golden Retriever’ of the group. He’s more quiety, centred than some of the others because he’s already been through his pain.”

Robin de Jesús is ‘Emory’

“A sort of courageous, femme, radical queen. He’s way ahead of his time as someone that’s well ware of their authenticity and sexuality.

“He refuses to compromise himself in a world that wants to reduce him.”

Charlie Carver is ‘Cowboy’

“‘Cowboy’ is a young hustler introduced to the group as a birthday gift for Harold.

“He’s the only true stranger to everyone, but his youth and open heart quickly endear him to some and make him a target for others.

“Despite his relative innocence, his non-judgemental nature makes him quite a good listener and points to a different kind of knowingness.”

Brian Hutchison is ‘Alan’

“Alan is the catalyst for much of the conflict in the film. Alan is a lawyer and the former college roommate of Michael, and he calls Micahel saying he’s in New York for the night, really needing to speak with him.

So, Alan’s arrival at the party is met with various degress of irritation and caution, since Alan is straight and married to a woman.

“This party is supposed to be a place where these guys can let their guard down and be themselves, and Alan is a threat to that.

He represents so much of what these other guys had to hide from in their world in 1968 and they resent him for being there uninvited.”

Read the world exclusive first interview with the cast of The Boys In the Band in the Attitude October issue, out now to download and to order globally.

Subscribe now to secure your special edition The Boys In the Band double gatefold cover and get your first three issues for just £3.