Luke Macfarlane Was “Honored” to Play Stonewall Park Ranger on the Set of “Bros”
Mild spoilers ahead for Bros.
Luke Macfarlane has been sending hearts aflutter since he was on Brothers & Sisters, which ran from 2006 to 2011. On the ABC drama, Macfarlane played a confident gay chef who was in a relationship with Kevin (Matthew Rhys). The series made television history when Scott and Kevin were married, with their gay commitment ceremony being "the first same-sex union on American network TV between series regulars."
Now the out heartthrob is making history again as one of the stars of Bros, the first gay romantic comedy ever released by a major studio, and the first major studio picture with an entire LGBTQ cast — even in the straight roles.
In the movie, Macfarlane plays Aaron, a masculine and muscular hottie with a body, who meets Billy Eichner's character, Bobby, a neurotic podcaster who is hired to write a romantic comedy about two gay men — but he ends up falling for Aaron — even though the two are from opposite ends of the gay experience.
Macfarlane has been steadily working ever since Brothers & Sisters ended over a decade ago. The Canadian-born actor had a stint on NBC's Smash, and played an interplanetary bounty hunter on Killjoys for five seasons, but these days most might recognize him for being a holiday hunk in a string of Hallmark Christmas movies — 13 to be exact.
He even moved his mistletoe makeouts to Netflix last year when he played the love interest in Single All the Way, the streamer's first LGBTQ holiday rom-com.
As his new studio film about to open theaters, Macfarlane spoke with Logo on a variety of topics: From his time on the Bros set, visiting Provincetown for the first time, his idea for a Brothers & Sisters reunion, and being in a buddy cop movie with Shangela.
Hi, Luke! I'm so excited to talk to you. I've been a fan of yours since Brothers & Sisters. I loved Bros. I thought it was so funny. Definitely the hardest I've laughed at a movie in a long time.
That was the goal, so I'm glad it worked!
The cast is mostly made up of queer actors, and I'm assuming there were a lot of queer members of the crew too. What was the vibe like on set?
The vibe was great, and yes, we did have a lot of crew members that were LGBTQ as well. I've been in film and television for a very, very long time. And people might be surprised to hear that sometimes on set, there's a bit of apathy. There's a little bit of "Ugh," and dragging your feet through. But I think the experience that we all had on Bros was we were all so grateful to be there because truly, I don't think many of us ever thought that we would find ourselves in a studio feature film.
So, there was a tremendous amount of attention to detail, and gratitude to be there. [Director]Nick Stoller and [producer] Judd Apatow, who are on set as well, were reminded about all the other talent that they've never seen before, because they hadn't been given a shot to be in a feature film.
It's really incredible. I was watching an interview with TS Madison, and she was asked what some of her favorite moments were from the movie, and her answer were ones that didn't make the final cut. Was there any improvisation or ad libbing going on when you were filming your scenes with Billy?
Well, first of all, it is a super tight script, and it was a really good script. A lot of the stuff that Billy and I... Because it was more of the romantic stuff that moved the plot along in a bigger way, there was less opportunity for ad lib. But that being said, Billy and Nick were both really open to suggestions.
And something that didn't make it into the movie was actually me mentioning to Billy once that I was a huge fan of the National Parks system. I've driven across the country many times. I have visited many National Parks, including National Historic Sites. And one day on set, I said to Billy... Actually, it was when we were in the museum and my character was looking at all the queer people that came before. I said to him, "Stonewall was made a National Historic Site under the Obama administration, but they never have an interpretive park ranger there." And Billy thought that was really funny. So, they actually got me a National Parks costume, and I stood in front of Stonewall and handed out pamphlets to the people walking by. This is all part of the montage where I'm trying to win Billy back. But ultimately, it didn't make it into the cut. But it was a great honor for me to finally get to don the National Parks Service hat and khakis.
Is there a National Park that you haven't visited yet that you're dying to?
Oh, you would be amazed. There are so many National Parks in our country. Actually, my love for the National Parks weirdly began with the American Civil War battlefield, so I've been to almost all the major Civil War battlefields. My next goal is to visit all the Revolutionary War battlefields. But I don't get to go down to the East Coast as much, where all those very important battles happened. I also got to tell Billy about Friedrich von Steuben, who was an openly gay Prussian general who helped the Americans win the American Revolution. We have many queer stories.
So the movie was filmed in Provincetown. Was that your first time in P-Town?
It was my first time in P-Town, actually.
How'd you like it?
It's amazing. It's absolutely beautiful. I wish it was closer to Los Angeles where I live because I think I could definitely see myself renting a house there.
Did you hit up any drag shows or see any other shows while you were not filming?
No, sadly, I didn't. There was one party that we popped into for about five minutes. But it was research for me. I haven't spent as much time as I should have in gay bars.
You went to Juilliard, and then you filmed the movie in New York, but I'm guessing you didn't really get to go out because of COVID and everything.
Not really, sadly. It's always great to be back in New York. So much of my growing up happened in this city. So much of who I am is attributed to this city. As much as we associate Billy with Billy On The Street in New York City, it was that for me too. I came to New York City when I was 19 years old, and studied at Juilliard. My [Bros movie] trailer, one day, was parked around the corner from The Juilliard School, and I was very emotional.
Full circle. Back in your Juilliard days did you go out to any of the gay bars in New York?
Oh yeah, for sure. I definitely had my "wild oats" days. I think for my 21st birthday, my twin sister surprised me, and that day, and I can tell you this because you're Logo, I brought my sister to The Cock. She was both fascinated and concerned.
The Cock's always a good time.
Especially back then.
So, that was your first time in P-Town, but do you ever go to any other gay destinations, like Fire Island or Palm Springs?
Like I mentioned before, I've driven across country many times. And I am always fascinated by these queer communities that pop up around the country. I recently read the book Less. It's stunning. It's beautiful. But he mentions the Russian River area, which I've been to, but it's been a long time ago. So, I've spent some time there. I've definitely spent some time in Palm Springs. But I don't have a beach share anywhere. I haven't done that yet.
I love watching Hallmark Christmas movies every year. I'm a big fan of yours, so what did you think when you read the Hallheart scenes in the Bros script?
Well, I'm glad you said it was not my suggestion to bring in the Hallheart bits of comedy. But the thing with Billy is his observations on pop culture are on the nose. And I think that I quickly learned with Billy is, if he's not really making fun of you, he's not paying attention to you. And I think that it's a huge testament to the success of the Hallmark brand that people still love a romance. And that's what they make. They do that in a way that no other channel or network does. They are celebrating romance and love.
And I think that Billy is able to poke fun at them because he watches them and because he appreciates them and that sort of mentality that is often missing in our cynical society. So, I've been very proud to have been part of the Hallmark family for many years.
It's nice to hear you talk about how supportive of you they've been.
They've been incredibly supportive. Truly.
But I've always wondered, by the time the holidays actually roll around, are you just Christmas-ed out from filming these movies?
Yes. I kind of am.
You said that your upcoming one might be your last?
You never know. Hallmark is really open to me, and they want to collaborate with me. Hallmark does this incredible thing where they work with the same people over again. And at a certain point, they ask you if you have some stories that you want to develop. So we're in the early stages of developing some ideas, and we'll see where it goes.
I love to hear that. And so, the LGBTQ museum in the movie, I'm just curious if, in real life, you were given a space in an LGBTQ museum to honor a queer person from history, who would you pick?
Wow. That's a very good question. Who is popping into my mind? My favorite book is a Gore Vidal book called The City and the Pillar. I love what he did. I think his whole career is incredibly fascinating. And The City and the Pillar is actually a very early book, and it's remarkable that he published it. It's essentially about a soldier post-war. I think that something that is often overlooked is that the Americans involved in the Second World War especially, it was kind of like the first queer internet. It was this way for all these men from all over the country to come together, and share rooms, and learn about each other and spend time together. And that's the way a lot of American queer culture got started, in those barracks. And The City and the Pillar really looks at that. I guess I'd give a real homage to Gore Vidal if I were to open a museum.
I think that's a good answer. I saw that you filmed Lone Star Bull with Shanglea. Can you tease anything about that?
Yeah, that was with the amazing Shangela. She was incredible. It's still being put together, and I'm really excited. I can't say that I've seen it yet. But something that I've always been interested in, if you look back my career, is I fought really hard to get opportunities to be an action guy. I did five seasons on this sci-fi show called Killjoys, and Lone Star Bull is a queer action movie. Shangela and I play a bit of a tag team buddy cop situation where we're trying to find out what is happening in Savannah, Georgia, and solve a mystery together.
Wow, that sounds great.
She's so funny. She's amazing.
I love Shangela. And then I have to ask, because I mentioned it earlier, but Brothers & Sisters... I know it would probably never happen because of schedules and everything, but do you think there could ever be a reunion or revival?
I tell you, I'm actually very good friends with David Marshall Grant, who ended up writing a lot [of it] and who also is an amazing actor. And I've said to him a number of times, "Why don't we do a Christmas special a la the British and bring back the family for one Christmas special?" I can see maybe the Walker family gets together in Hawaii all these years later. I'm definitely open to that. There are a lot of other people that need to sign off on, like Sally Field and Calista Flockhart, but maybe. Maybe.