[Editor’s note: Tonight the Los Angeles LGBT Center will host a screening of the 1999 film Trick. During the screening director Jim Fall will provide audio commentary and share anecdotes about making the beloved rom-com. The interview below was originally published Feb. 19, 2014.]
Do you remember your one-night stands from 1999? Neither do we, but who can forget Trick? Director Jim Fall‘s clever rom-com, which followed an aspiring Broadway composer (Christian Campbell) and a go-go boy (J.P. Pitoc) who get acquainted as they search for a place to hook up, struck a chord with moviegoers when it was released 15 years ago. To mark this anniversary the film, which also features memorable supporting turns by Miss Coco Peru and Tori Spelling, will be shown at UCLA February 22 as part of the Outfest-UCLA Legacy Project Screening Series (for tickets to the screening with Fall, Campbell and Pitoc in attendance, go here.) Fall chatted with Queerty about the making of the movie, the impact it had on viewers at the time and what the hopeful characters might be doing today.
How did you come to direct Trick?
I found the script written by Jason Schafer while I was directing a play. The early version of Trick, which was then called Gay Boy, was really funny and good but was maybe 70-some pages long. What I wanted to do was not make a movie that was about two gay guys coming out or AIDS or anything I felt a lot of gay movies were dealing with or a gay guy falling for a straight guy. There were a lot of gay guy falling for a straight guy movies that I found vaguely homophobic, actually. [Laughs] Even back then I was tired of what was fast becoming cliché. What I thought was subversive about the movie was that it was really about two guys trying to find a place to have sex and then they end up falling for each other.
In 1999 some people still considered it “brave” for straight actors to play gay characters. Did J.P. and Christian have any such concerns?
It wasn’t really an issue. The only issue is was when we were casting some actors turned us down. I don’t remember names, but back then it was a lot harder to cast a gay movie. You can’t ask an actor if he’s gay because it’s inappropriate. When Christian auditioned I didn’t ask, but I assumed that maybe J.P. was gay because I’d seen him in what was essentially a gay play and jumped to a conclusion. It turns out that neither of them are.
[Laughs] I know. He’s not, though. He’s married with two kids now. It wasn’t that big of an issue ultimately when the right actors came about. J.P.’s role was the hardest to cast. His character had one of the biggest arcs in the story. It was tough to find someone to play a go-go boy, who had that body and could act. [Laughs] I saw a picture of J.P. in his underwear in a gay magazine in New York. I went to see his play and he did a monologue in his underwear and I thought, That’s my go-go boy!
How did you find Christian?
Christian just auditioned. I came to L.A. to broaden the casting net and he was one of the people on the list. What’s funny is his first audition didn’t go so well and I kind of wrote him off. Luckily he came back to the call backs and he’d completely rethought the character and made him much more vulnerable. I thought, Oh, you’re the guy. Auditioning is very tough. It was my first movie. You never know if you’re saying the right thing to get an actor to show you what they can do. Thank God he came back. He ended up being perfect.