New Queer as Folk writer on ultimate ally Kim Cattrall and rebooting for the age of Gay Twitter
Queer as Folk showrunner Stephen Dunn explains how he rebooted the show for a new generation.
We’re not even half way through the year and already 2022 has been a major year for queer television.
The start of the year saw the grand return of Euphoria which came back to screens bigger, better and even more inescapable than ever. Come spring time we were all reduced to collective mush after binging Netflix’s gooey teen romance Heartstopper. And now, this summer brings the long-awaited revival of Russell T Davies’ groundbreaking drama Queer As Folk.
You’ll be relieved to hear this updated version – its second reimagining, following the US remake which ran from 2000 ’til 2005 – does not disappoint. This time set on the balmy, vibrant streets of New Orleans, the 2022 Queer As Folk comes bursting with joy, humour, nuance and gut-wrenching drama.
Undoubtedly one of the show’s strongest assets is its stellar leading cast of fresh-faced talent which includes Johnny Sibilly, Devin Way and Jesse James Keitel, all now surely poised for break-out success.
However, the show’s secret weapon comes in the form of one of its supporting cast members, a face extremely familiar to most TV fans. We are, of course, talking about the legendary Kim Cattrall, who plays the eccentric but complex mother of two of our main gang.
The role is the first major appearance from Cattrall since her highly publicised absence from the Sex And The City reboot And Just Like That… – quite the casting coup for a revival of another iconic 90s television show.
“Even before I even knew what And Just Like That… was, I was like, ‘I want Kim Cattrall for Brenda!’,” writer and showrunner Stephen Dunn tells PinkNews.
“She’s been such an ally, she really understands the queer community in this way, and she understood how her character strangely fit into this queer family. Just having her be a part of the ensemble, it shifts everything. It’s like, we’re playing a new game now.”
“She’s such an icon but she’s so generous and happy to be there. She was so excited to be with the kids telling these queer stories,” Dunn adds.
“She knew this was a story about our community, and she just wanted to support that. It made working with her even more of a joy to know how appreciative and grateful she was to honour this experience.”
Other familiar faces in the rebooted Queer As Folk include Juliette Lewis, who plays the mother of this Queer as Folk’s 17-year-old love interest, Mingus (Fin Argus), along with viral stars Benito Skinner (aka Benny Drama) and Meg ‘Hi Gay!’ Stalter.
“Both [Benny and Meg] brought bring such a queer energy, both chaos in completely different ways,” Dunn says. “Working with them was just such a joy because they’re so much fun and incredible improvisers as well.
“Benny gets to really play, as he himself refers to his character as ‘the worst of us’, which I think is just so funny.” The actor and Instagram darling plays JCJ, a local gay with questionable intentions who throws himself into a fundraising project in the aftermath of a tragedy which occurs in the opening episode.
“JCJ is someone figuring out ways to turn this horrible event into something to self-promote themselves,” Dunn says. “It’s a really dark character but also kind of real. Benny brought such a queer villain energy to the season.
“One of the most fun days I’ve ever had on set was working with Meg and Lucas Gage. She was improvising within every line but it was always gold. She’s a comedic genius, I mean, it was surreal – I’ve been watching her on Instagram for the last two and a half years!”
Both actors feel tailor-made for this show, with its script that often reads like the liked tweets of your favourite Twitter Gay. The influence of online queer communities was noted by Dunn, explaining: “Gay Twitter is like a part of queer culture now.
“I’m actually not very active on Twitter but it does sculpt a little bit of the language of our show and the dark comedic tone that I think really drives us.”
Crucially, the cast also sees queer actors in the central queer roles, something Dunn says was not difficult to achieve thanks to the abundance of talented LGBTQ+ actors available to work in Hollywood.
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“I really want to support the queer actors who are out and who are incredibly talented and deserving of these roles,” he says.
“I think that any casting director when casting queer characters doesn’t need to look that far outside of the community that the stories are about because those actors are there, and they’re incredibly talented. So I would encourage all casting directors to start there and find your actors from those communities.”
Despite his championing of casting out and proud actors in queer roles, Dunn did take a moment to acknowledge that the conversation around casting “straight” actors in queer roles is not always as black and white as it may seem.
“I also realise that it is a nuanced conversation because Hollywood is still not the safest place to be queer on despite what everyone might think, based on how f**king gay Hollywood really is. It’s not necessarily an environment where safe spaces and communities are fully protected.
“You know, we see Rebel Wilson is getting outed, and it’s like, ‘F**k off, it’s none of your business!'”
Queer As Folk premieres on July 1 in the UK on STARZPLAY.
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