It was interesting. I saw the comments on iTunes already for the soundtrack, and there are people who only saw the trailer and are already downloading the music. It's amazing to think that they find this. I remember that also happening with "bare: the musical."
Gustafson: Oh, right, yeah.
And that sort of had a grassroots element where I think more people heard the bootleg recording online than ever saw the show staged.
Williams: And the first question anyone ever asks us is 'Where can we get the soundtrack?' It was a question we couldn't answer for a long time. We were all like, 'Uhh, we'll know when you do…' But every Q&A, after the film was done, was 'Where can we get the soundtrack?' They love the music so much. It touched a lot of people, particularly anyone who loves Shakespeare. I never thought of Shakespearean literature being made into uplifting music. I love Shakespeare, but a lot of people find it very dry and very difficult to even just read, let alone to hear it in song. I think it's wonderful. I didn't even know it was on iTunes until today, so it's cool to hear people buying it who have only seen the trailer. I was pleasantly surprised to see it on apple.com, on the trailers. I usually check up on there and see what films are coming out all the time because I'm a cinephile. I love films. To see ours there, I was so excited. It meant people like me, who check that website every day, that was there for them. So, even people who won't be able to see the movie for quite a while can at least enjoy the music from it.
As a young openly gay person, how do you relate to this story on a personal level?
Cohen: I think, foremost, I related to the role as an outsider, and as someone who just craved something more out of his immediate social culture, and not so much as a gay thing. I was never victim to some of the physical discrimination and the tagging on the locker and stuff. That would never have flown in my group of friends, fortunately. So, I didn't feel like I was getting up and telling my story as a young gay person. But I feel this story is based on a wide breadth of gay kids' experiences and, of course, mine is in there somewhere.
And does being a gay actor playing a gay part even matter?
Cohen: Absolutely not.
And what was your own coming out like?
Cohen: Umm… it was… (laughs)
Gustafson: It was last week in Out Magazine… (laughs) Oops.
Cohen: It was pretty painless. I have a really supportive family and group of friends, and I'm lucky I was never met with any adversity that greatly shifted my lifestyle or my emotional situation. I think it's hard for anyone to come out of the closet with anything, not necessarily sexuality but whatever the thing is that might be deemed deviant that you kept inside for a while. But it took me a few years… I was experimenting with lots of different things for a while.
Gustafson: There's the headline right there. (laughs)
Cohen: I'm still extremely hesitant to identify as gay, because…
Personal reasons? Career?
Cohen: Both. I just hope there's never a time when I have to label anything, and that might be a naïve, hopeless endeavor, but I really believe that. There's just no reason why I should call myself gay or straight or anything. With it comes way too many problematics and issues.
On the site, it seems a lot of people need the label at first to define who they are. But I really think you should only label yourself in hindsight.
Cohen: Yeah, I agree.
I can't seem to get that message through to anyone…
Williams: But sometimes at that point, you do need a crutch. At that age, it's better than the alternative. At 14, I don't think anyone really knows what they want or what they're doing with their lives, and sometimes (a label) is better. It must be easier to have something that is definable. Like, you can open a dictionary, find it, and that can help them explain it, and then they can figure out who they are on top of that. But I agree. I don't think it's necessary. You should speak for yourself, not your labels.
Although on one hand, I say that, and on the other, everything I do for the site is 'Are any of the actors openly gay?' I see a Broadway show… 'Was he openly gay? Can I interview him?' So, I constantly violate my own principles…
Williams: Faster than you can make them?
(laughs) Pretty much.
Williams: We all do that occasionally.