Gay movie mainstay Charlie David wrote and stars in this beloved kinda/sorta gay update of The Graduate!
Tyler (Derek Baynham) brings his college buddy Chase (David) home for the summer to hang out with his surprisingly hot dad, Nathan (Dan Payne), and mom, Stacey (Thea Gill from “Queer as Folk”). They have the picture-perfect, All-American life going on here in quaint Prospect Lake. The father-son duo golf with regularity, there’s always a family barbecue and the conversation is straight out of “Leave It to Beaver.” While Chase knows he’s gay, he has never come out to his friend, who tries in vain to set him up with girls. But when Chase comes out to his summer family, the cracks in the family dynamic start to show. Nathan looks with a lusty new eye to his son’s best friend, and when he and Chase are left alone for the night, their mutual passion bubbles to the surface, and clothes are quickly shed. The drama hits a peak as Tyler and Stacey return early and discover the shocking secret about this young dad. Can Nathan remain true to himself and keep his family together? Sparkling dialogue, a fast pace and lots of screen time for the ridiculously gorgeous Charlie David have made Mulligans, originally released in 2008, a movie we keep coming back to again and again.
With the 10th anniversary of Mulligans approaching, we thought it was a great time to revisit the film, so we’re presenting this Q&A with Charlie. Enjoy!
What inspired the story of Mulligans?
My producing partner, Linda Carter. Linda is also my manager, and when I was making the decision to come out as an actor she gave me some sage advice. She said, “You will lose some roles by coming out and you’ll get some roles for coming out. What we can do is create your own work—so start writing.”
That was basically it. Then I began to write concepts that involved my best friend Derek James and myself. Mulligans originally started as kind of a frat humor comedy. Then obviously as I explored the relationship and the family which is completely invented, I discovered a much richer, interesting story.
How did you juggle the roles of screenwriter, actor, and producer for the film?
It definitely wasn’t easy! One of my heroes is Warren Beatty, and he has a career I aspire to in terms of being involved in the creative and business sides of his projects. I found that the aspects of bringing together a creative team, financing the production, and planning a rollout for distribution were all very exciting for me. As exciting as getting in front of the camera and acting.
There were definitely some days, especially in the last two weeks of preproduction that I thought I was going to implode. Fortunately we assembled a fantastic and supportive team of problem solvers which allowed me to prioritize where my attention was most needed at any given time.
What were the challenges of bringing together your first film?
There were many! Taking on a large-scale project for the first time has many challenges. There is the educational arc of learning the different aspects of production; there is the catch-22 aspect of securing talent and crew in order to secure financing but needing financing in order to secure talent! Being a producer I’ve found is all about relationships, and trust me, a lot of people came to the table to assist with this project. We were extremely fortunate in so many areas from our cast working for much less than their quotes, donated locations, wardrobe sponsorships, deals cut on almost everything you’ll see in the film.
There’s most likely an interesting story about generosity in almost every actor, crew member, prop, location, and shot.
Why was it important for you to tell this story?
It’s hard to say whether I was directly influenced by the story I’m telling or whether by telling the story I am more open conduit to related topics. In either case I have heard so many stories from people in similar situations where a member of the family comes out and how the family unit is affected. In this case with the story really focusing on the parents, I thought it was interesting to watch someone who’s already created a life for themselves in terms of profession, family, and children have second thoughts about who they were and why they’d come to the reality they created for themselves.
Beyond this I feel there is a great need for representing different aspects of the LGBT community. There is a flood of entertainment that reflects a small section of the gay experience, and I wanted to explore some new terrain. Mulligans is about a family and the very human needs of loving each other, but also loving ourselves enough to want to live our authentic selves.
Which role was easiest to write? The hardest?
As a writer there are always triggers inside the people I create that remind me of someone in my real life. The role of Tyler came extremely quickly because I based a lot of it on my relationship with Derek James, my best friend. His rhythm of speech and comic sensibility was just there—innate.
The role of Stacey was extremely fun and pulls from several different women I respect in my life. The role of mother is fascinating to me in its complete and general loss of the sense of self that occurs with raising children. Stacey has a very precise and methodical way of speaking; she lives in her head and believes her efforts to create a perfect exterior and perfect Martha Stewart-like home will transform the loneliness she feels. She’s also an interesting dichotomy of, at a fundamental level, knowing the truth about her husband but living in such extreme denial.
The role of Birdy was a complete fabrication, and so in many ways was maybe one of the most entertaining to explore. I created her as a sort of sage beyond her years—she speaks on a very adult level much of the time but doesn’t necessarily realize how on the money she is with her remarks.
The role of Nathan was perhaps the most difficult for me to create. In some ways this may have been because he is the man that I could have been; the man that represents for me the path not taken in my own life. I was definitely pulled to write his experiences but strangely maybe had the narrowest grasp of what it really means to be this person.
Okay, I lied! Maybe the most difficult role to write was that of my own—the role of Chase. There is a temptation to create the hero out of your own role. This was a strong pull but one that proved to be the incorrect motivation for the story. Mulligans is about the family and the parents specifically. The role of Chase is really the catalyst—he is the inciting incident that propels everyone into a journey of self-discovery, but it is not the story of Chase. So in essence trying to create the secondary antihero in the role of Chase—giving him enough redeemable qualities so as not to be contemptible in the eyes of the audience but not without his degree of fault in the whole matter.