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Joel Kim Booster explains why a Fire Island sequel isn’t likely: ‘I didn’t want to make Legally Blonde 2’

Exclusive: "Think about successful comedy romcom sequels — there aren’t a lot," the comedian has told Attitude

By Alastair James

Joel Kim Booster
Joel wears knitwear by Dsquared2, skirt by Ludovic de Saint Sernin, underwear by Supreme, and boots by Marsell (Image: Taylor Miller/Attitude)

The writer and star of the hit 2022 from com Fire Island, Joel Kim Booster, has explained why there probably won’t be a sequel just yet. And, it’s pretty sensible.

Booster won plaudits for his 2022 all-gay take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which was set in the gay destination of Fire Island. The film also starred Bowen Yang, Conrad Ricamora, and Matt Rogers.

In an exclusive interview with Attitude as he appeared on the cover of the July/August issue – available to order now – Booster addressed previous comments that he wasn’t up for a sequel.

“After the movie came out, Searchlight and Hulu were interested,” he shared. However, he indicated he didn’t have any immediate ideas for a follow-up. “If I had come out of the movie with a great idea for how this story would continue, that would be one thing, but I’m not going to force a story. Think about successful comedy romcom sequels — there aren’t a lot. I didn’t want to make Legally Blonde 2. People think they want a sequel, and then they’ll be confronted with something that will sully the memory of the first one and at best be forgotten about.”

Very wise!

“It means a lot to the people that it means a lot to”

Asked about giving a similar treatment to other literary classics Booster was reluctant to commit to anything reasoning, “I don’t want to become ‘the adaptation guy’. I need [to do] a couple of movies before I do it again. But I’m obsessed with Shakespeare adaptations. I’d love to do Much Ado About Nothing, it’s my favourite.”

Seemingly referencing Anyone but You, he then said: “I know a movie came out recently that didn’t do well [critically]…” Booster named films like She’s the Man and 10 Things I Hate About You as great examples of modern adaptations that he loves. “It’s such a fun thought exercise to think about what would that look like in modern day or in space? I studied at The Globe for six months and so much of that work is thinking as a director how would you stage it in an interesting way.”

While discussing the success and popularity of Fire Island, Booster also commented on the impact the film had. Many celebrated the film for putting three-dimensional queer Asian characters front and centre. “I don’t know that it changed the landscape [of representation]” Booster said when asked about the film’s impact. “It means a lot to the people that it means a lot to. I always appreciate hearing from those people. It will always be a huge part of the conversation around me and my legacy, or whatever.”

“I made a very Asian-focused movie because I’m Asian, and that’s the story that I wanted to tell”

He went on to say: “It’s funny, some of the conversations in and around it almost feel retrograde now, like we’ve moved past some of it. Maybe it’s because I made the movie and I feel past it and ready to move on. But it’s hard to gauge.” However, he did say that it accomplished what he wanted it to. “Ultimately, peeling back every layer of representation, I wanted to star in a movie alongside one of my best friends, Bowen Yang. I felt like that would never happen if we waited for the industry to present us with an opportunity.”

On whether he felt Fire Island moved the needle at all on representation he clarified he didn’t mean to downplay its impact. “Fire Island came out at a time of a movement of not only representation on screen, but behind it as well. I made a very Asian-focused movie because I’m Asian, and that’s the story that I wanted to tell, populated by people who could connect to that story. The real lesson to take away is that the representation behind the camera matters just as much if not more than on camera.”

Check out the full interview in Issue 359 of Attitude magazine which is available to order online here and alongside 15 years of back issues on the free Attitude app.