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'G.B.F.' Star Paul Iacono, Director Darren Stein On Gay Teen Comedy's Tribeca Debut

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If director Darren Stein and actor Paul Iacono have their way, their new movie “G.B.F.” will usher in a more subversive film genre in the vein of “Clueless” and “Mean Girls,” but with a gay twist.

Premiering April 19 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, “G.B.F.” tells the story of closeted teens Tanner (played by “United States of Tara” alum Michael J. Willett) and Brent (Iacono). In an effort to make himself a hip “social accessory” among a revered girls' clique at his high school, the sassy Brent hatches a plan to come out of the closet in a very big way. His efforts go hilariously awry, however, when the more introverted Tanner is accidentally outed first and ends up as the school’s most popular student in the weeks leading up to the senior prom.

Iacono deems the coming-of-age, teen-centric comedy a “mo-mance,” focused on a platonic, if no less hormonally charged, relationship between two young gay men. Acknowledging that “G.B.F.” encompasses heightened elements of queer popular culture, the star hopes the final film is more in line with “American Pie” than a gay-specific romp like “The Birdcage.”

“In every other teen comedy, Brent and Tanner would be the two sidekicks that you’d maybe get a couple of gay jokes out of, and that would be as far as their journey would go,” Iacono told HuffPost Gay Voices in an interview. Although “Will & Grace” veteran Megan Mullally co-stars as Brent's mother, and Natasha Lyonne and Horatio Sanz provide support, Iacono said the ultimate “heart of the movie” is the relationship between the two men, depicted with as much complexity, adversity and even sexual undercurrents as possible: “Ultimately, it’s an exploration of different friendships, as well as how we view different friendships in different ways... whether they're for validation, for support, for protection or even just to climb the social ladder.”

For Iacono, the film also helped fulfill a personal mission of bringing “queer content” to a larger audience. That void is something the 24-year-old actor, who came out publicly in a 2012 interview with the Village Voice’s Michael Musto, said he’d experienced firsthand during his teen years.

In hindsight, the former “Hard Times of RJ Berger” star calls coming out “one of the best things” he’s ever done –- a refreshing sentiment at time when the subject of openly gay and lesbian actors still stirs controversy in Hollywood and beyond.

“It took a weight off my shoulders that I didn’t know was there, and allowed me to open up in a way that not many actors in Hollywood do,” he said. “It’s only done wonders for me personally and for my career.” In fact, Iacono claimed the Voice interview helped convince Stein that the actor was right for the role of Brent: “Darren contacted me within a week of that article being published, so [my coming out] has definitely opened doors and windows that wouldn’t have been open otherwise.”

Meanwhile, Stein said it was the topical, breezy script (penned by George Northy) that immediately convinced him that “G.B.F.” could be a hit.

“I loved that it was the story of two gay kids that was told in teen movie language that felt very mainstream and universal,” Stein, who helmed 1999’s “Jawbreaker,” a black comedy starring Rose McGowan and Rebecca Gayheart as members of a murderous high school clique, said. “It just felt like a big, fun time at the multiplex, yet the intentions in the screenplay were so pure.”

Beneath that candy-coated exterior, Stein added, “G.B.F.” has a gooey emotional center that also makes it stand apart from its teen and tween-geared cinematic coevals: “Ultimately the movie is about treating everyone as an individual, and that goes for both the gay and straight kids in the film.”

"G.B.F." premieres April 19 at the Tribeca Film Festival. For more information, click here.

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