Director/actor Peter Paige, best known for playing Emmett Honeycutt on the U.S. version of Queer as Folk, admitted to Windy City Times that he has long been "a giant rom-com fan."
"Back in the '90s and early-2000s, Friday nightopening nightif Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts were starring in a movie, I was there," he added.
Paige was in Chicago last fall, directing his own contribution to the romantic comedy genre, the LGBT-themed romantic comedy The Thing About Harry, set to air on Disney's Freeform network Saturday, Feb. 15.
"I would sit in the audience and I would love those films," added Paige, who also appears in The Thing About Harry. "But it always made me a little sad that I had to translate themwhile they were 'for me,' they were not [really] for me. I was so excited that there might be the opportunity to make this rom-com that queer boys wouldn't have to translate."
The film follows straight-laced gay Chicagoan Sam ( Jake Borelli, a regular on Grey's Anatomy ) as he reconnects with Harry ( Niko Terho ), his once-closeted and now-pansexual high school bully, when they end up on a road trip together.
"Harry is just a free-spirited, fun-loving dude," said Terho. "Whatever is happening in the moment is what interests him. … He wasn't so out in high school, like Sam, but he's [now] fully embraced his sexualityhe's pansexual. He doesn't think about a lot of things; he just goes into them with an open mind."
The Thing About Harry is the first romantic comedy for Borelli, who is a regular on Grey's Anatomy and is, like his character on that series, openly gay.
"The fact that this is a queer romantic comedy is massive for me," he said. "…We get to explore a side of rom-coms that we didn't get to see before. As a queer person, [I think] 'Finally, I get to see myself reflected back in this genre.'
Actor Britt Baron, who plays Sam's best friend Stasia, said she enjoyed the role reversal wherein a queer character is in the the lead instead of embodying the "best friend" romantic-comedy archetype.
"To play the heterosexual white female friend character has actually been fun," Baron noted. "Usually I'm the main character falling in love. But I love playing the best friend. Peter wrote her in such a complex real way; she's so flawedlike we all are."
Paige described The Thing About Harry in essence as being about his twenties, adding, "It's all about the ways I was seeking love then, and stitching them together into the usual structure of a romantic comedy."
The filmmakers chose Chicago because it had a strong and vibrant gay community and hadn't been overexposed in other films and television programs, Paige said.
"One thing I also love is that intersection of 'midwestern' and 'urban,'" he added. "It's a very polite city. It's a very friendly city, which is lovely. There was something about these particular boys at the heart of the story, and their 'midwestern-ness,' that I thought was very interesting."