Catching Up With G.B.F.'s Michael J. Willett
By Adam Rathe
Imagine if, at the end of Pretty in Pink, Duckie and Blaine hooked up and left Molly Ringwald in the dust. Or if Ferris Bueller spent his day off playing a very different Sausage King of Chicago. It’s difficult to envision—teen movies have always been so straight—but with G.B.F., that’s about to change.
“I can’t believe it’s only happening now,” says 24-year-old Michael J. Willett, the star of the movie (along with out gay actor Paul Iacono), which stands for Gay Best Friend. Directed by Darren Stein (of 1999’s teen touchstone Jawbreaker) and featuring an all-star supporting cast (Natasha Lyonne, Megan Mullally, Rebecca Gayheart), the story follows Willett’s Tanner as he’s outed and then upgraded to the top of the high school food chain in one fey swoop. As Mean Girls battle for his affection and spurned friends begrudge his popularity, Tanner grapples with being defined by his sexuality. Here, Willett gossips about going back to school.
On His Arm Candy Days
“I was dragged to two proms even though I was clearly not into it. I had girl friends who would treat me similarly to the way Tanner’s treated him. When they weren’t dating, I was the masculine figure in their lives. I think I’m probably plenty of people’s G.B.F., which I’m totally fine with.”
Breaking the Mold
“Usually, there’s the one gay character who comes in, cracks a joke, and leaves, or he’s overly bitchy or limited in the story line. I didn’t feel Tanner was like that at all. Sometimes he’s an antihero — not portrayed in the most flattering way — but he’s down-to-earth and sincere. His sexuality is just part of him. It’s not the foot he leads with.”
The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough
“Teen movies are ingrained in our DNA. I like The Goonies and The Outsiders. It’s so cool to be in the hall of fame of teen films. G.B.F. is timely, but it should have already happened... It’s the kind of movie I would’ve wanted to see in high school. If anything, it’s about a new generation of kids who don’t have a problem with their sexuality.”
On What’s Next
“I feel like it’s taken me a long time to get any momentum. I’ve worked very hard to stay focused on projects I love and believe in. I’ll be a series regular on a new MTV show, Faking It, and I want to continue making films and TV and writing music. I want to be a creative force in the world.”
Watch the trailer for G.B.F. below: