The Queerty Interview

Trick: Director Jim Fall Remembers The Classic Gay Rom-Com 15 Years Later


[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.

imagesWhen they saw the film a lot of guys I know hoped J.P. was gay.

[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.

imagesTrick showed a more comedic side of Tori Spelling than 90210 fans had seen at the time. How did she become involved with the project? 

I was lucky that I had no firsthand knowledge of her. I knew who she was but I’d never seen an episode of 90210. She auditioned. One of my producers suggested her and I thought she’d be funny but she had to audition. She was totally a trouper. She auditioned with the diner scene and had it down. She knew why it was funny. She earned the role like any other actor.

Coco Peru nearly steals the film with her monologue. Did you write the role specifically for her?

Coco — Clinton Leupp is his real name — had been a friend of mine for a long time and I had put him in a play. Originally there was no drag queen in Trick, but when we did readings of the script Clint actually read the Tori Spelling role. [Laughs] I didn’t know any women who could read it funny and I wanted to hear it read funny. He was so good that I thought I had to work him into the movie. That bathroom scene evolved. We eventually wrote him in and sketched out a monologue for him, but Clint who is a monologist by nature basically wrote that based on what was in the script.

There’s a very strong resemblance between Coco and Tori. Was that intentional?

That has haunted the project. In fact when the film played at Sundance that was the first question we were asked at the Q&A. I honestly didn’t see it coming. I know that sounds crazy in retrospect. I knew Clint for so long and he’d always had that trademark red wig and Tori changed her hair color a lot. I think when I met Tori her hair was a different color. I honestly didn’t intend that to happen. I wish I’d taken more advantage of it. It’s a happy accident.

Jim Fall

There was a surge of queer films in the late ‘90s yet Trick seemed to stand apart from the rest. What do you remember about the response to the film at the time?

When you’re in the middle of the whirlwind it’s hard to be objective. It just seemed charmed. It was an amazing, magical time and was everything you hoped your first feature would be. I’m very proud of it. It was my first feature and it was a validating moment. It was just wonderful to put something out there that I really loved and to have people respond to it.

Not every film gets a celebratory 15th anniversary screening. Why do you think Trick still resonates with people?

I’m honored that people still refer to it. When people ask me what I do and I mention that I directed Trick, most of the time people have a very positive response. I think there’s something classic about the story and emotions and falling in love which is very relatable. I was actively making a gay film but I think I stumbled upon a story that was accessible and kind of universal. The subversive thing is that you fall in love with two gay guys and when they kiss at the end you want them to kiss. I think that was very political for the time.

What do you think the characters are doing now?

I’m in the very early stages of a sequel. Everybody is on board and wants to do it. I resisted it for a long time but I think now that so much time has passed it would be interesting to revisit these characters as adults. I’m still developing the story but hopefully it will come together. The concept is the two boys went on a date and it didn’t work out. They ended up never having sex. Then cut to 15 years later and they run into each other again. This would be them getting together and getting to know each other in the real world as adults with a lot of water under the bridge.

Watch the Trick trailer below.

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  • Ron Jackson

    Trick is one of my all time favorite films. I still drag it off the shelf to watch a couple times a year. Thanks to Mr. Fall and the cast and crew for making it.

  • Scribe38

    I love this movie! “You ever have cum in your eye? It burns!”

  • QJ201

    Still one of the best gay films ever. Looking is trying to be Trick set 10 years later.

  • MudgeBoy

    I liked trick but I didn’t really love it. The Go Go boy is hot as hell and there are some great lines. But there is something frustrating about the fact that they spend the night trying to hook up and finally have that one adorable kiss. In a sense, the fact that they only kiss gives hope for the relationship but I guess I am always looking for more.

  • Toby Ross

    As far as I am concerned Trick is the only gay themed movie that can be enjoyed by straights as well, the rest of gay cinema films are too in house, inbred plot and “you’ll get over it” humor designed for gays only. It is also the best gay themed movie ever produced. Genius!

  • darkorient

    A long, long time ago, Trick always came up whenever I went browsing at local DVD stores. I always gave it a miss because of the colorful and seemingly camp cover. You see, I am never a fan of Queer as Folk and I suspected Trick to be the same bore. But how wrong I was! Just recently, I decided to give it a try and I found it to be very sweet! I do feel like I still want more, so a sequel will be very much welcomed!

  • JennyFromdabloc

    All time classic movie. “It buuuuuuurns!”

  • krystalkleer

    by far thee best non heterosexual flick ever made that wasn’t about gett’n laid!

  • Mdterp01

    Love this movie. “Como te gusta mi pinga en mis pantalones”

  • queertyreader

    Never understood the popularity of this film.

  • Meowzer

    I absolutely love this film. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it, but it’s still one of my “go to” movies when I’m in the mood for a romantic comedy. I had always secretly hoped Christian was gay because he was just so adorable.
    Even after 15 years I still think the film holds up well.

  • Cam

    The scripts are obviously out there and yet hardly any gay movies of this quality come out.

    Brokeback Mountain can make more money than a movie like say Scream and yet studios will still claim that gay movies are bad business why they make 3 sequels and a ton of knock off’s to Scream and never doing another gay movie.

    Movies like Trick, Beautiful Thing, The Wedding Banquet etc… are too few and far between.

  • Ron Jackson

    The reason we go back to films like TRICK is because even though it isn’t perfect; it’s better than 90% of the low budget crap that passes for “gay cinema”.

  • Charlie in Charge

    A classic. Love that it kept it light.

  • sportyguy1983

    Definitely one of the better gay movies made regardless of the fact that so many gay movies are just stinkers.

  • skcord

    I remember getting so excited every time this came on IFC back when I was in my early teens.(back when that channel was worth having) It was the only movie to which I had access that had gay characters… and hot scenes lol

  • geoff

    LOVED Trick! Please tell me Tori will come back for the sequel!

  • Lane103

    This movie was so sweet…and as has been mentioned before there are so few gay themed movies you can enjoy….the only other film from that era I liked as much was Edge of Seventeen….another sweet funny movie…

  • Stache1

    @Toby Ross: Trick was great. If were talking about a gay themed indie kind of movie my vote goes for Priscilla Queen of the desert though. That movie was loved by everyone.

  • Stache1

    @Cam: Sequels are generally easy money for the studios so I can’t blame them for preferring that.

    I think the last good one was Milk. Of coarse it only took decades for them to finally make it.

  • viveutvivas

    @Stache1, yes, Priscilla was the better movie, but Trick was great too. So much more watchable than the usual dour gay tragedies.

  • Hillers

    Such a great, funny flick. But Christian straight in real life? C’mon now.

  • SteveDenver

    Someone actually compared TRICK with PRISCILLA? Is that just plain stupid or a reason to whine? I guess it’s both.

    While my friends were drooling for JP, I was falling for Christian, soon to discover he is Neve Campbell’s brother.

    What a sweet film, I think it’s time to give it another go!

  • Stache1

    @SteveDenver: I’m glad that you liked it but I was replying to another commenter about it being the most popular with straights. Not whether one was better then then the other. Try improving your reading comprehension.

    I happened to see both in a theater. I saw Priscilla twice and it was sold out and Trick while being good was pretty much limited to the LGBT community.

  • Stache1

    “In 1999 some people still considered it “brave” for straight actors to play gay characters.”

    That’s BS. First these guys were not even known. At that point work was work for them. They’ll take whatever comes their way. Take Priscilla for example That came out in 1994. These were A-list actors and it didn’t hurt them one bit.

  • Cam

    @Stache1: said… “@Cam: Sequels are generally easy money for the studios so I can’t blame them for preferring that.


    Yes, but they also made multiple knock-off’s of Scream even though Brokeback made more.

  • Alan down in Florida

    @Stache1 – in 2014 it may not be “brave” for straight actors to play gay characters in both mainstream and indie films. What is now “brave” is for gay actors to play gay in gay cinema. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve enjoyed an actor’s performance in a gay film and checked them out on only to find they’ve never done anything of consequence again in film although many work in theater or go behind the camera.

  • lkeels

    Now wait a minute. He says that the sequel is them running into each other 15 years later after nothing happened between them? I’ve lived the last 15 years believing that the kiss meant that they started a relationship, and I’m not ready to have that shot down. He needs to rethink this. Let’s see a sequel where they’ve been TOGETHER for 15 years!

  • viveutvivas

    @lkeels, so you want a romantic comedy about a couple who have been married for 15 years? I think maybe you need to rethink that. 🙂

  • babybabybaby

    I liked the movie it was cute I even liked the part Tori Spelling played the movie is timeless…

  • LadyL

    Oooh, sweet memories… I loved ’90s BritQ films too, like “Beautiful Thing” and “Get Real.”

  • The7thDoctor

    Loved the lads on-screen. Who knew there was a hottie BEHIND the camera! Jim Fall is beautiful!

  • Robsjcfll

    What I loved about the film was the fact that both guys were so “normal” and genuinely sweet. The film still remains a personal favorite.

  • Sebizzar

    @darkorient: “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, or a DVD! 😉

    I actually have never finished watching this film (I was watching it online some time ago and the damn connection gave out) so yeah I better get to finishing it!

  • DarthKitsune

    This is one of the first gay themed movies I ever saw, and as such, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

  • viveutvivas

    Gabriel looks about 15 to me now.

  • Crunchysocks

    Is there any chance that Trick will be released on Blu-Ray for its 15th Anniversary?????

  • michaelroy

    I loved Trick! Great flick. I can’t believe it’s been 15 years already. #damn! and Tori Spelling is terrific. Glad they’re doing a sequel. I’m interested in seeing the characters 15 years later. They can do flashbacks to the original flick in the sequel. They should do a special 15 year anniversary release of Trick with never before seen footage and interviews with the main actors.

  • jamal49

    A top-notch film from start to finish! Ironically, no sex but one of the sexiest kisses ever. The final shot of the film has now become its most poignant. The two leads are excellent with a believable chemistry and Tori Spelling is hilarious (at that time, much to my surprise!). I watch this film at least twice a year. I never get tired of it. I always recommend this film to others when they ask me “what’s a good “gay” film to watch”.

  • Cam

    Loved this movie, and was surprised about Tori Spelling. Some friends who had never met those type of girls thought she over acted, but my friends and I all thought she nailed the F-Hag role perfectly.

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