Joey Pollari says he was almost certain he didn’t get the its participation in blockbuster teen film “Love, Simon.”
During the audition, he embarrassingly mispronounced a word, stumbled nervously through his lines, and arrived garmented appearing the part of the role he was auditioning for: a Waffle House employee. He was the only actor auditioning who did so.
It seems the waiter appear didn’t end up hurting his chances too much, though. The 23 -year-old from Minnesota landed the role of “Lyle” in “Love, Simon” — Greg Berlanti’s groundbreaking film based on Becky Albertalli’s 2015 bestselling fiction, “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.”
In the cinema, Lyle plays a potential love interest to Simon, and there’s a real potential he’s also “Blue” — a pseudonym for the lesbian classmate Simon is corresponding with romantically online.
“Love, Simon” is Hollywood’s first major studio-produced teen rom-com featuring a gay leading.
Its big budget and wide release meant most young LGBTQ people across the country could see “Simon” at their local theater. That’s never been the case with an LGBTQ-themed movie for teens before.
While the movie opened to modest box office results after its March 16 premiere, a top rating from Cinemascore, rave reviews, and successful word-of-mouth slowly turned “Love, Simon” into a success in more styles than one.
For Pollari — who came out as homosexual at age 18, and had experienced bullying because of his sexual orientation — the film’s themes make especially close to home.
I sat down with Pollari to discuss the film’s success, positive fan reactions, and the audition fail that altogether wasn’t.
On the moment it truly sunk in that “Simon” was a movie like no other :
I likely learned it style too late.[ chuckles ] I think it wasn’t until I considered the movie in a pre-screening that I believed, “Oh, this is weird, isn’t it? I’m watching a gay narration on a major studio plenty. 20 th Century Fox made this. No one had to strong-arm them into getting it stimulated, and it’s not fringe.” That’s when it truly hit me and dawned on me that a big step was being attained.
On his personal similarities to — and changes with — Simon:
Our narratives are somewhat related, in that the environment was productive for coming out — and by that, I mean supportive. But Simon and I were pretty different, I would say. I was a pretty fabulous kid .[ giggles] I don’t guess many people were surprised[ to learn I was gay ]. So that experience was different. I got bullied here and there for people thinking that I was gay. I watch myself in Simon, but I see myself in Ethan, too,[ actor] Clark Moore’s character.
On “Love, Simon’s” impressive word-of-mouth heating up the box office:
It’s really nice that people are responding to it and want to go see it again, and are telling someone else to go see it. It shows that the people truly want this movie and they want their friends to see it.
If we’re looking at it in an industry sense and fiscal sense, it’s doing really well, and maybe will help support more[ LGBTQ-themed] movies get made.
On fans reacting to the historic nature of the movie :
A couple people have reached out — more than a couple — saying they either “re coming out”[ as LGBTQ] because of the movie, or expressing their gratitude. You know, feeling appreciative they can see themselves in any way, shape, or form on the big screen.
Or, older people reaching out and saying, “I wish I had this movie when I was a teen, but I’m happy to have it now.” People have been really generous with it. I think that’s been the coolest part of the whole experience — how people have been responding to it.
On reasoning he altogether botched his audition for “Love, Simon” :
I believed the whole thing was a stumble through.[ giggles ] I was the only one garmented in something that resembled a Waffle House uniform. I was like, “I’m so stupid, wearing this stupid uniform.” It was a hat and collared shirt, tucked into gasps. And I was there and believed, “You are such a nerd.” [ giggles] ” Why are you here? ”
I went to the audition thinking I was just going to be me during it. And then I was truly being me when I pronounced “Hanukkah” incorrect. I was nervous. It was a whole thing. I called my manager afterwards and was like, “Well, that’s one for the books, onto the next! “
SPOILER QUESTION AND ANSWER BELOW .
On fans hoping Lyle was really Blue at the end of the movie :
I did have some people who were rooting for Lyle to be up there on the Ferris wheel. Mostly my family, to be completely honest. [ laughs]
Check out Joey Pollari — in all of his Waffle House uniform glory — in a trailer for “Love, Simon, ” below:
This interview has been condensed and edited in the interests of clarity .
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