| ISAAC BENDELE
AFTER THE JANUARY 17 release of G.B.F., everyone totes wants 24-year-old, Michael J. Willett to be their Gay Best Friend. Picture it: a fresh out of the closet gay boy, gets pulled into the power struggle of the three queen bees of North Gateway High School. As the hot new accessory of celebs highlighted in the pop culture and fashion mag rags, the girls expect Tanner to be their fierce and fetch G.B.F. What they find instead is a person who all but defies their assumptions and stereotypes, but not before a series of hilarious and heartfelt moments ensues. The movie tells the story of how Tanner comes to find himself after he leaves the closet. After playing out and proud Lionel in the show “United States of Tara” and the tamer Tanner in G.B.F., Willett dishes with Quorum Columbus about which character he relates to most to what we can expect next from him.
On the spectrum of your United States of Tara to your G.B.F. characters, would you say you identify with one more than the other?
Tanner, in G.B.F., is much more introverted, he’s not out and proud, he was actually a lot more like me in high school. I felt a little like an outsider. I had a lot of friends and was friends with different kinds of people, but I was kind of a party of one. Tanner likes comic books and likes to draw and I was an artist. I relate to Tanner much more than Lionel in a lot of ways.
How was it working with Megan Mullally, an icon of sorts to me and I think many other gay people?
Every gay boy would love for her to be their mom. What’s cool about her character is she just really loved her kid above all. She was really the perfect one for that role.
Which part of the movie is most meaningful to you?
You’ve said G.B.F. couldn’t have been made at a better time. Why is that?
In this era of cutting out frills and getting straight to the point, G.B.F., the title alone implies the texting generation. Part of me is surprised it didn’t happen sooner, but I think it is timely. I think culture evolves before art does in some ways. This film explores the newly outed gay teen and how he’s suddenly the new accessory. I’m hoping after this film it won’t be such a thing. We won’t have gay characters and straight characters. It won’t be such a gimmick and we’ll be just people.
One of the things I loved about the script about G.B.F. was Tanner didn’t have a problem with him being gay. I have a speech at the end where he says, “I don’t want to go a gay prom. I don’t want to get gay married. I just want to go to prom. I just want to get married, maybe.” Tanner just wants to be a kid like anyone else.
I’ve seen a little of your YouTube page and I am excited to hear more about your newly released first album!
I’ve always loved music. I knew all of the songs on the oldies stations when I was younger and always would sing along. My parents listened to things from the ‘70s, like Queen and classic rock. I was influenced in that way. I find music to be an extension of my creativity, and I like to express myself though my song writing. I am a creative person and consider music one way I like to express myself. It is like my journal.
I’ve come out with a few singles, but I’ve been writing so many songs over the years. I’ve decided to put the ones I really like together and create a real album with a beginning, middle and end. It’s been amazing to work with some legends like Rick Springfield and Brian May, Julian Lennon, - people I thought I’d never work with.
What are you doing to prepare life after the launch of the movie and your album?
It is a change I’ve been working towards for a very long time. There was a time when I was very afraid of being famous or a celebrity. I’ll get to be working a lot. It is always exciting to read a new script for a new episode. Every script has so much possibility.
What can we look forward to next from you?
With flip txt speak, witty dialogue, and verbal zingers for days, G.B.F. takes viewers through the antics we all go through while discovering who we are and it reminds us that in the end a gay best friend is like any best friend; they are there to be with us through the ups and downs reminding us to create who we are and to do it fabulously. Many thanks to Michael J. Willett for the interview and for showing us all how to be a G.B.F. – Great Best Friend.
Columbus resident Matthew Paul and his longtime best friend Veva wrote music for director Darren Stein’s (Jawbreaker) latest feature film G.B.F. Paul connected with the director during filming. Stein was looking for music to fit some of the movie’s soon-to-be most iconic scenes: the sexy, slow motion walk and a scene with Will & Grace star Megan Mullally. The songs for these scenes are H.E.R. and Love Gun. The single H.E.R. became a hit of the movie and found its way on to the soundtrack by Lake Shore Records. Paul will collaborate with Michael J. Willett and Veva on a music project this year. Paul’s single Sex Sells is featured in a Andrew Christian ad campaign. The song is available on iTunes.