In trying to recall Hollywood films where people with disabilities actually play people with disabilities, I can only come up with shock (“Freaks”) or sentiment (“The Best Years of Our Lives,” “Children of a Lesser God”). Am I missing something or is Hollywood missing something? ^ This is a touchy question. Even on “Keeping It Real,” I felt like I had to make sure the director didn’t become too sentimental or objectifying. There were comments during shooting like, “Make sure you get shots of the crutches here.” In a restaurant scene my crutches were pulled out from under the table and propped on the wall for a better view. That said, I completely understand the impulse and it is a totally affecting dramatic device; I use it myself in some ways in my own work. I just wanted to avoid feeling like an “after-school special w***e,” and I think I dogged that pretty well.
Who first came up with the idea of doing a film about you? And how did the project begin to gather steam? ^ One of the executive producers on “Keeping It Real,” T.C. Rice, and filmmaker Peter Hall (“Delinquent”) originally came up with the idea of making a film about my work some years ago. The project and my career have steadily gathered steam, the other actors were interested in working with me and Eli Kabillio’s Mad Dog Films came along with financing at the right time. So much was brimming in my career, that it made sense to turn the cameras on. ^ I wasn’t able to work with Peter Hall this time around; if I had, you would have certainly seen footage of recreational drug use and bisexual three ways. As a director, Eli Kabillio took a gentler angle. This film focuses on the preconceptions of what it is to be a gay, disabled man in America and believe me, that is plenty for one film!
The film brings to life several of your best-known monologues with the input of stars like Anne Meara (as a cantankerous restaurant patron served by waiter Greg) and Stephen Baldwin (as the biblio-challenged muscle stud named Biff). Why was it decided to bring these stand-up routines to life? And are these monologues funnier now that you can actually see the snippy restaurant diner or the dum-dum gym bunny as real people? ^ Oh yes. Anne Meara is just an amazing human being, Stephen Baldwin is my new hero, and I got to work with my pal Deborah Yates (Broadway’s “Contact”)–she’s the kind of girl who can even make a gay man breathless!
Get the rest of the interview in part three of EMERGING INDIE STAR GREG WALLOCH>>>