The cast and crew of Fire Island talk to Yahoo Entertainment about how the film was inspired by Jane Austen, and how it started with an actual trip to Fire Island, New York.
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KEVIN POLOWY: Joel, this is one of the most inspiring takes on "Pride and Prejudice" we've seen probably ever. How did your fandom for-- in connection to Jane Austen influence you to write this?
JOEL KIM BOOSTER: The whole, like, genesis of the entire movie was my first trip to Fire Island with Bowen, where I took "Pride and Prejudice" as my beach read. Reading that story, it just-- the parallels felt so clear. And it felt so relevant to what we were experiencing on the island at that moment. And I've loved "Pride and Prejudice" since I was a little boy. I loved the BBC miniseries with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and I loved Joe Wright's with Keira Knightley.
And for me, it was just like, this seems like something that I could do. And I said it first as a joke and a little bit of a threat. And people, you know, at first, were very-- like, booed and threw things at me. But you know, after a couple of years, you know, like, it really just crystallized after-- the more I read Jane Austen on that island.
KEVIN POLOWY: Bowen, where were you? Were you booing or cheering?
BOWEN YANG: I was cheering. I'm so not motivated the same way that Joel is. And Joel is actually-- he was brought up as a writer, was educated as a writer. I just kind of, for some reason, projected my work ethic onto him and went, OK, sure. That'll happen in, like, you know, 10 years or something. And sure enough, like, within only a couple of years, like, there was a draft. And it was just truly just amazing.
KEVIN POLOWY: Andrew, how natural did the Jane Austen connection feel to telling a contemporary gay romcom when Joel first brought this to you?
ANDREW AHN: At first, I think people were like, wait, how is this going to work?
JAMES SCULLY: Right.
ANDREW AHN: And then you-- like, I read it. And I was like, oh my god. It works--
JAMES SCULLY: Yeah.
ANDREW AHN: --so beautifully.
JAMES SCULLY: Seamlessly.
ANDREW AHN: And I think there's something about how Jane Austen observed, like, Regency-era society, how, you know, people were communicating across class lines, how they were making assumptions about each other, and how that might keep you from creating a really special connection.
And I think that that happens within the queer community, you know? Like, I think we're very good at judging people, because it's a survival skill, you know? It's like, we need to be able to assess, like, is this person going to hate me because I'm gay? We use that judgment within the community sometimes unfairly. And it keeps us from making connections. And so I think Joel really shrewdly saw that parallel and took it to the extreme with this movie.
KEVIN POLOWY: James, are you-- have you been a Jane Austen fan? And how did you respond when you first read Joel's adaptation?
JAMES SCULLY: I just don't think a movie like this has really been made before. As a gay man, reading it and having just recently been to Fire Island myself for the first time, I was like, wow. Yes. Like, it was like a breath of fresh air. I think sometimes straight audiences feel like queer love and queer stories are so far away from them. And it's like, no, a lot of the ways that we love and experience each other are very familiar to you and can be, like, adapted using stories that are part of the, like, straight canon of romances.
And so it was really exciting to see "Pride and Prejudice," something that I don't know people would immediately be like, yeah, that'd be a great vessel for a queer love story-- to see it so effortlessly become that.
KEVIN POLOWY: And Conrad and Matt, how about you guys? Are you Jane Austen fans as well? And how did you respond when you first read Joel's adaptation?
CONRAD RICAMORA: I feel like I read it in high school, but I don't remember so much of the reading part of it.
And then I remember the mov-- the Keira Knightley movie. I just remember being like, oh, this is so sweeping and romantic.
MATT ROGERS: When I was in 12th grade, I took AP Lit. And at the end of the year, we had to do the AP test in order to get college credit. And the question was to use a book that we had read that year and talk about how one character was a foil to the main character. And I talked about how Lydia was a foil to Elizabeth Bennet. And I literally wrote my essay on the relationship that I ended up playing in this film with Joel. And she did get a 5.
KEVIN POLOWY: There are kids out there that have "Pride and Prejudice" on their summer reading list this year. Can they watch "Fire Island" instead?
JAMES SCULLY: Define kids.
ANDREW AHN: [LAUGHS]
JAMES SCULLY: How old are the children?
KEVIN POLOWY: [INAUDIBLE]
JAMES SCULLY: Are they, like, 18 and above?
JOEL KIM BOOSTER: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
CONRAD RICAMORA: Yes, definitely.
BOWEN YANG: For sure.
JOEL KIM BOOSTER: They're going to be like, the G in "Fire-- in "Pride and Prejudice" really-- yeah.
KEVIN POLOWY: And by its faithfulness to the original [INAUDIBLE].
JOEL KIM BOOSTER: I think so. Yeah, I think people-- it's like CliffsNotes.
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