Queerantined

Daily Dose: Sean Hayes’ ‘Hollywood Screen Kiss’

Welcome to Queerty’s latest entry in our series, Queerantined: Daily Dose. Every weekday as long as the COVID-19 pandemic has us under quarantine, we’ll release a suggested bit of gloriously queer entertainment designed to keep you from getting stir crazy in the house. Each weekend, we will also suggest a binge-able title to keep you extra engaged.

The Early Years: Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss

Actor Sean Hayes has become synonymous with gays on screen, thanks, of course, to his more than 20-year tenure as Jack on Will & Grace. For anyone wanting to know how a then-unknown Hayes landed such a pivotal role, venture back to 1998 with Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss. The film marks Hayes’ big-screen debut in a leading role, and foreshadows his later success. The story centers on Billy (played by Hayes), an LA photographer with a fascination for old movies. When Billy falls for a handsome young server named Gabriel (Brad Rowe), things get complicated. Gabriel has a girlfriend, but also seems attracted to Billy. Things get more complicated when Gabriel begins modeling for Billy, and the tension grows. Is Gabriel gay? Bi? Even if he is, does that mean Billy has a shot with him? Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss explores the complexities of post-AIDS crisis dating for gay men–one of the first films to really tackle the subject–with complex sensitivity. Moreover, Hayes gives a nuanced and thoughtful performance which, in addition to foreshadowing his work as Jack, also foreshadows the acclaim he would earn for his work in films like The Three Stooges and on stage in Promises, Promises. Somewhat dated but still fun, Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss is a fine rom-com to stream on a COVID Saturday night.

Available on iTunes.