It’s not every day that I get to write about movie news that genuinely excites me, but fortunately, today is one of those days, as Billy Eichner has signed on to write and star in an untitled romantic comedy from power-producer Judd Apatow and director Nick Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall). See, I’m a big Eichner fan from way back, and I believe there are few comic performers more deserving of headlining their own movie, let alone one as fairly groundbreaking as this one. In what way, you ask?
Well, according to Deadline, Eichner’s film will follow two men who have commitment problems and are attempting a relationship. Now, I asked my colleagues here at the office, and we were hard-pressed to think of a gay romantic comedy from a major studio. The Birdcage and In & Out are gay comedy classics, but neither really qualifies as a rom-com, and neither would I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, which features two straight leads pretending to be gay for the sake of comedy. Love, Simon is considered a rom-com, and it’s hard for me to argue since I didn’t see the film, but I’m told it’s rather sexless (understandable, since it’s a high school movie) and I don’t believe that will be the case in Eichner’s film, which I assume will tackle sex as frankly and hilariously as Amy Schumer did in Apatow’s Trainwreck and Jason Segel did in Stoller’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
I suppose that’s what is so exciting to me about Eichner’s project — from what I can gather, it aims to treat the gay relationship at its core just like any other relationship, with the same highlights and pitfalls we’d see in a generic rom-com where in all likelihood, the straight guy is afraid of commitment (something that wasn’t the case in either of the above films, which is one of many reasons why they stood out).
Apatow will produce Eichner’s movie under his Apatow Productions banner, while Stoller will produce via his company Global Solutions. The project serves as a reunion between Eichner and Stoller, who cast the actor in a small role in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising before working together on Stoller’s Netflix series Friends from College. This new film comes on the heels of last week’s announcement that Apatow’s next directorial effort will be a Universal comedy starring Pete Davidson of Saturday Night Live fame.
I first discovered Eichner running around New York City screaming like a madman on Funny or Die’s Billy on the Street, where his energy was infectious. He went on to star opposite Julie Klausner on Hulu’s Difficult People, which I and many others dearly miss. At least us Eichner fans catch glimpses of the three-time Emmy nominee from time to time on Netflix’s Friends from College, in which he plays Fred Savage‘s fiancé (I’m halfway through season two, so no spoilers!). When I was suggesting Oscar hosts late last year, I threw Eichner’s hat in the ring and thought he’d be great paired up with someone perceived as super-hetero like John Cena.
Eichner has a pair of Disney movies on the horizon, as not only does he voice lovable meerkat Timon in Jon Favreau‘s remake of The Lion King, but he stars opposite Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader in the Christmas comedy Noelle, which is expected to debut on Disney+. He was recently seen on the eighth season of Ryan Murphy’s FX anthology series American Horror Story: Apocalypse. UTA represents Eichner, Apatow and Stoller, while 3 Arts and Mosaic manage Eichner and Apatow, respectively. Deadline broke the news.