Brian Falduto, who played sassy band stylist Billy, aka Fancy Pants, in hit Jack Black comedy School of Rock has spoken out about the severe homophobic bullying he received at school after playing the role.
Falduto said that he was heavily taunted in school for his part in the movie, which he said the producers changed to fit his “unfiltered” self because they “liked so much what I was bringing to the room.”
Speaking to NowThis Entertainment, Falduto said: “That audition process was me at my most authentic, and I got noticed because I stood out. And then I spent the rest of my life trying to not stand out.”
“In the fifth grade there was an ‘I Hate Brian’ club, and in high school someone sent a video around of me with the f-word. It was insulting, and that was passed around, and then that kid got suspended and then everyone was mad at me because he got suspended.
“All I knew at the time was that being gay was bad. It was meant to be insulting if someone in your fifth grade class of boys called you gay, it was not cool. So I instantly shut it down. And by the time I realised I was potentially gay, I was already homophobic.
“I replaced a lot of self-acceptance with self-repudiation and self-hatred. I was the opposite of proud of who I was.”
Falduto’s character from the 2003 film became known for his deadpan retort of, “You’re tacky and I hate you,” which he said to Jack Black’s character Dewey Finn.
Falduto, who is now a life coach and is open about his sexuality, said that the bullying left him “used to being emotionally abused,” which consequently had a detrimental impact on his relationships.
He said LGBTQ people are “naturally self-sabotaging” because of the abuse they receive growing up.
“You accept that you’re not going to be happy, so you get used to sadness, and you create this self-sabotaging thing,” he added.
“In life, we have to make decisions every day. We have to do things that we think are going to help us achieve our goals. And for someone who, for their entire life, thought that what they felt was wrong, moving forward with the confidence towards your goals is difficult.”
Falduto also said that he would like to reclaim his role if a sequel to the 2003 film was made.