If the all-star cast of Netflix's The Boys in the Band got you thinking it's about a rowdy, mischievous group of gay friends (for some, lovers) who spend their nights cackling and poking fun at each other, you're not technically wrong.
Starring Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Tuc Watkins, Robin de Jesús, Michael Benjamin Washington, Charlie Carver and Brian Hutchison, the new Ryan Murphy-produced movie is an adaptation of Mart Crowley's 1968 play, a depends-who-you-ask controversial piece made into a film in 1970 and later developed into a Tony-winning Broadway production in 2018.
The story takes place over the course of one night as Michael (Parsons) hosts a very tense birthday party for Harold (Quinto). Directed by Joe Mantello, the new film offers plenty of camp: There's a fun dance sequence, shady one-liners, and chiseled six-pack abs.
But it also explores the shame, self-hatred and thorny complexities that come with being a gay man, particularly in the 1960s, just before the HIV/AIDS epidemic occurred and long before LGBTQ+ communities began to experience some equality.
We know, we know: très dark! Where's the fun? We promise, it's there, especially in the way the characters one-up each other with their insults. However, watching this film without drawing parallels to how much hasn't changed for LGBTQ+ populations today wouldn't make the experience complete.
The Boys in the Band is also memorable because it reunites the exact same actors from the 2018 Broadway show. Same story, different way of telling it. And yes, you're not alone in thinking it's a pretty gorgeous ensemble.
Speaking with E! News exclusively, Bomer opened up about reliving the Broadway experience for the movie and why he had such a fantastic time on both sets. "What I loved about this group of men is, look, there was this understanding that this was kind of unprecedented that we were having this entirely openly gay cast, but no one ever came at it with a sense of, ‘Oh, this is important, we are important,'" he said. "They just rolled up their sleeves and did the work."
"We had such amazing leadership from Joe Mantello from the get-go," Bomer continued. "It was almost like those rehearsal doors closed for the play and then we were trapped in that apartment until our rehearsal was over. And we all became versions of our characters in a way."
Bomer remembered staying in character with de Jesús and Washington between scenes of the stage production, what he calls one of his favorite moments. "[We] would just riff with each other in character the whole time," he said. "It was so fun and it was so free and I just looked forward to it every night, even though it's something that was just something for the three of us, really. I loved it."
A silver lining to the at-times sad film is that it has the potential to make LGBTQ+ audiences feel excited about the future—an experience Bomer, who shares three kids with husband Simon Hall, can also relate to.
"Being a part of this play gave me such a sense of hope and optimism," he said. "Not only working with all these incredible actors who I'm floored by their talent, but also the fact that people lined up to come see this play eight times a week. It almost brought me to tears every night that people were there to support this story."
"I talk to young executives in the industry," he added, "I see our kids and their friends who don't bat an eye that they have two dads, and I look to the horizon as an LGBTQ+ artist so optimistic and so hopeful for all the members of our community that they're gonna be brought into the spotlight in a real way, in a visible way."
Now that's the power of magical storytelling.
The Boys in the Band is now streaming on Netflix.