In the new movie Shoulder Dance, which is out on streaming, friends Ira (played by out actor Matt Dallas, looking and sounding quite different than from his days on TV's Kyle XY) and Roger (played by openly gay actor Rick Cosnett) haven't seen each other in almost 25 years. When Roger arrives for the weekend with girlfriend Lilly (Maggie Geha), a night filled with drinking, Molly and partying brings long-suppressed desires to the surface. (Taylor Frey portrays Ira's partner, Josh.)
In a recent talk with Windy City Times, Cosnett talked about Shoulder Dance, feelings and queerness.
Note: This conversation was edited for clarity and length.
Windy City Times: Congratulations on the film. Was it the cast, the script or something else that made you want to be part of Shoulder Dance?
Rick Cosnett: Well, they offered it to me, which is a great way to come correct with me. [Interviewer laughs.] Auditioning is not my favorite thing in the world; you put so much into auditioning and it ends up being work that you do for free. But it is part of the job.
But it had Matt Dallas attached, and he's such a great actor. I just loved seeing the work he did when I researched him. And then I looked at the scriptwith fingers crossedand it was the most incredible thing. It's so hard to write dialogue, and here it's just so natural and real and fun. There was no way I wasn't going to do it.
WCT: Let's talk a little about Roger, who I described to someone as "trouble on two legs" (or maybe three, according to the film).
RC: I love that, Andrew. He's trouble with a capital "T." ("Trouble on three legs"I just caught that. That's good.) Roger is definitely trouble on three legs. He's a wild, rambunctious, confident, crazy and in-your-face person who doesn't want to deal with his emotions but who is so emotional. He's on this rollercoaster because his mom passed away quite recently so there's this deep-set realitybut he's so fun and charismatic!
I also thought of Jason Momoa, because I've met him a few times and he's just the sexiest, loveliest, most energetic person who's crazily comfortable in his own body. There are no bad social boundaries; he's just free in himself.
I've always wanted to be that person but I was always so shy. When I got to drama school, I couldn't really scream or cry or get angry; I was really repressed. It's been a lot of work over a long time. Here, I found my freedom and just came in hot every dayand it really paid off because we had such a great time. It felt so special and [the chemistry] really did translate onto the screen. I was super-happy with that.
WCT: So … that's what being on Molly is like, huh? [Laughs]
RC: [Laughs] You don't know?
WCT: I really don't.
RC: Yes, it is. [Laughs] But you use up all of your serotonin while you're on Molly; then you basically have to survive until your serotonin builds up again, so you go on this rollercoaster. And it can be a gateway, which is why Roger says it's used in therapyand it is used in therapy, in a much safer and more clinical way. But this is a film, and [Molly] is basically the catalyst for making them open their hearts and break down those barriers so they can go to the places they need to.
WCT: What does this movie say about relationships?
RC: There are a lot of issues there, especially regarding monogamy and marriage/commitment. I still believe in monogamy very much, but with this modern world we live in, all sorts of things come up. So I think the movie speaks for itself in that way. It's very succinct in what it's trying to say, but everyone could take away something different.
WCT: Without giving too much away, I have to say that I was a bit conflicted about Ira at the endbut that was just my takeaway.
RC: Hmmm… Yeah, everyone feels differently about that. It's an interesting issue. Some people can forgive and move on while other people would've walked away. And that's the thing about you and me: We have to find people who have similar values to us. Otherwise, one person is always dissatisfied. Sometimes, people are on different wavelengths.
WCT: As you're someone who is Australian but who resides in the United States, I want to get your take on being part of the queer community in today's America.
RC: They've really embraced me, which is greatnot just the queer community, but everyone. I just hate that we might be so "inclusive" that we might be excluding people, like some straight people. And I think this film encouragesas [embodied] by Roger himselfbreaking down those barriers. We're all on the same Kinsey scale; straight people are just on the same spectrum.
If I may be honest, I do feel like I was offered this role because they wanted people who were courageous enough to be themselves in real life, and be whatever we are. I feel like I've been given a lot of roles recently because the role might be gay and they want someone who's brave enough to be himself in real life.
Right after I graduated, there were a lot of straight people cast in gay roles. At the same time you want to be able, as an actor, to play all roles. So it's a complex issuebut I'm glad that we've come so far in the areas of movies and TV. It's more acceptable now than when I first got to Hollywood and they encouraged me to hide my sexuality in order to be more marketable.
So I just wanted to free myself. I came out when I was 19 in my life and I was never in the closet in Australia. When I got to the U.S., I was still out but I was advised against being out at work. Luckily, that didn't last very long for me. [Laughs]