Director Michael Urie Talks About his Upcoming Film
When her boyfriend Michael (Michael Chernus) leaves her, Halley turns her to her gay brother Ryan (Ryan Spahn) to make “The Untitled Greenlight Halley Feiffer Vehicle Promo Trailer Project” in which they play lovers.
Ryan’s boyfriend, Michael Urie (Spahn’s real life boyfriend) reluctantly agrees to direct the film. Urie chatted with SFGN about directing “He’s Way More Famous Than You.”
GMK: The film’s humor is awkward, uncomfortable, and often very funny. How do you describe your sense of humor, and what comic bits did you play up in the film?
MU: We wanted to set up the audience to think one thing was going to happen but then have something else happen. We didn’t want anyone’s expectations to be fulfilled. We did not want to be afraid of the extreme. We wanted to make the outrageous not outrageous — go all the way, and not be afraid to find the funny in the extreme. I like the screwball aspect of the film. I love the idea that the celebrities walk on almost by accident. It’s like we almost did not tell Vanessa Williams or Ben Stiller they were on a set.
GMK: Your character has a line that it takes heart, not celebrity, to make a movie great. Do you believe that? Where is your heart in this film?
MU: The heart lies with Halley’s relationship with their brother Ryan, and the two of them doing something together. It is a story about alcoholism and ambition and we wanted to strike a true chord. The audience should either be laughing, crying, or horrified.
GMK: Halley films herself constantly. What do you think your film says about our obsession with celebrity and filming ourselves?
MU: Why are people posting crazy things on YouTube and Facebook? Ryan [in real life] says it’s like starring in your own movie, and for folks not in acting, or not in the public eye, it is a release to show yourself to everyone you know. Halley in the movie is not finding the outlets she needs as an actor, which is why she’s obsessed with filming and being famous. She’s a narcissist. It’s not true of all actors. We wanted to comment on celebrity/fame-obsessed culture, and the “me” culture of filming yourself and put out there. A lot of people are into that. We chose show business because it’s so easy to show that self-obsession.
GMK: This is the second film you directed. Are you transitioning your career to direct more films?
MU: I have no interest in stopping acting, but I love directing. I’m dying to do it again. Gay actors should be making their own opportunities until a mainstream studio makes a movie with gay characters in center roles played by gay actors.