Director Andrew Fleming talks Ideal Home, challenging rom-com conventions, and striving for real LGBT representation
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Ideal Home is Andrew Fleming’s latest film, a wonderful comedy which balances laugh-out-loud humour with precious and emotional moments. Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd star as Erasmus and Paul, long-term lovers who share a wild and tempestuous relationship in Santa Fe. Their lives are thrust into further disarray when Erasmus’ grandson, one he never knew about, arrives at their home with only a plastic bag containing cash, a bag of cocaine and a Bible. The inspiration for the story was drawn directly from Fleming’s own experience, it seems. “I lived with a gentleman and his son from a previous marriage to a woman. And that sort of happened in tandem with my inventing these two characters [of Erasmus and Paul] for another story, so I kind of put them into our circumstance. “It’s not an autobiography, but I just kind of imbued it with things that had happened to us. I mean the circumstances were that the boy was his son, and we were not quite the bumbling parents Paul and Erasmus are, but my life kind of informed a fictitious story – fact and fiction melded together. Plus, it took a long time to get made, so I had time to keep adding to it and personalising it, until it was what it was.” Despite the fictitious nature of the film’s characters, Fleming still sees himself in them. “I’ve said that I’m Paul on a bad day and Erasmus on a good day,” he laughs. “They’re a lot like me, but I’ve also said they’re a lot like people I know. I realised at a certain point that it was something kind of different, and that it was a gay love story. “And I looked around and felt like, this doesn’t really exist otherwise, and I realised I’ve never really seen me or people I know represented candidly. It wasn’t an easy movie to get made, and that’s when I thought ‘I’m going to keep pushing on this’, because otherwise I think something like it won’t exist. If it does already, it’s usually much more serious, and it’s about falling in love, and half the time it ends tragically. But I’ve never seen a gay romantic comedy like mine.” Of course, with the recent releases of films like Call Me by Your Name or Love, Simon, LGBT+ representation does seem to be improving in film. Fleming agrees: “I think it’s improving, but I think that there hasn’t been a moment when all the gays stop and say, ‘Wait a minute, we’re no longer just the supporting character!’ because that is still the case. “But also, there is a lot of instances, especially in TV, where the character becomes assimilated and stops being gay. Most of the gay men I know, if you saw them across a dinner table you’d say, ‘Well that guy is probably gay’ you know, and I feel like so much of the depiction I see – and this is just as true with men and women – there’s a heteronormative, to use a really pretentious word, quality to it. And that’s not what I see or what I experience.” The director has mentioned the difficulty he had getting Ideal Home made, but did it have anything to do with the fact its main characters were gay? “It’s very hard to get a movie made these days; it’s a lot harder than it used to be. The movie business in America – I can’t really comment on Britain, though we have a British star in the movie – it’s very difficult to make a movie made unless it’s a giant blockbuster based on a comic book.
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