It's Just Movies

Andrew Fleming, the 31-year-old writer-director of Threesome, is refreshingly unimpressed by moviemaking, show biz, hype, his detractors, his fans--and himself.

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EDWARD MARGULIES: Let's talk about the nudity in Threesome, which you wrote and directed. Was there any reluctance from Lara Flynn Boyle, Josh Charles or Stephen Baldwin?

ANDREW FLEMING: No, it was called Threesome, and it was about how people express themselves through their sexuality, so the actors acknowledged there was going to be some nudity.

Q: What was it like directing the film's numerous sex scenes?

A: I'd never done it before, so I was nervous ahead of time, but I got a thorough workout on sex scenes, you know? It was every permutation possible.

Q: What you just said probably con¬vinced some readers to become directors.

A: When I was young, my father was a talent agent who represented directors. It did not look like a good life to me-- directors are divorced, alcoholic, not a happy bunch. So I never envisioned being a director as some glamorous job: you're a mess, you never have time to bathe, you smell--it's the worst.

Q: What else did you learn growing up around show business?

A: That no one's doing anything important--it's just movies.

Q: Let me read you a quote about Threesome from Images in the Dark, a new book on gays and lesbians in movies: "No kisses, no groping, no sex, no threat America! [Threesome's] gay outlook makes Philadelphia seem like gay porn by comparison."

A: That pisses me off. The political point of view isn't pro-gay--I was trying not to have one at all. It's a very pre¬cise mirror of things that happened to me. It's honest, and if that's not enough, then what is? And what was all the flak about Philadelphia, anyway--what was the downside of that movie?

Q: On the other hand, many people loved Threesome.

A: Yes. One writer called Threesome "St. Elmo's Fire for faggots," which was nice, and Quentin Tarantino came up to me after a screening to say, "This is one of my favorite movies this year."

Q: What do you say when someone compliments your work?

A: Well, when somebody came up to me to say, "Threesome is my favorite movie ever," I said, "You know, if that's true, you really need to go see a few more movies."

Q: Your first film, Bad Dreams, opened to some effusive "wunderkind" press, and then the movie tanked.

A: When I was in film school at NYU, I did a film that won the best film award, and I was the big man on campus. Six months later, I didn't have a job or money, and I was completely depressed, so by the time Bad Dreams happened--with everybody, for about five seconds, calling me a boy wonder--I'd already learned the lesson.

Q: Which is?

A: It comes and it goes, very quickly, so you need to get a life.

Q: Frankly, it's hard to believe that the same man wrote and directed both Bad Dreams and Threesome. What happened in the six years between them?

A: I learned how to write. After Bad Dreams, I realized I needed to start over because my interests till then had been about the technical side of making films--I was dancing around what should be the most gripping thing, what's happening between people.

Q: How did you manage to learn to write about that?

A: I decided to audit an acting class, but sitting in seemed stupid and, since I had nothing to lose, I became intensively involved in the acting program. I kind of dropped out--didn't do anything else for two years.

Q: Ever think of becoming an actor?

A: [Laughing] Never in my darkest hour. But I had to get up in class and do all this stuff--cry, scream, do a sexy dance and strip down to my underwear. I think it was way, way more useful than film school.

Q: Since you are an openly gay filmmaker working in mainstream Tinseltown, I'm wondering whether you've run into any of the Hollywood homophobia that the press frequently reports on.

A: I haven't seen it. I don't know, maybe there are people somewhere saying, "Well, he's gay, he wouldn't be right for this"--I'm certainly not getting offered action pictures--but it's not like I get offered just gay projects: there aren't that many around.

Q: Well, then, has the publicity that you're openly gay resulted in lots of dates?

A: It hasn't exactly been a sexfest, no, although some guy sent me a picture of himself in his underwear. I just screamed--I mean, I wouldn't even send a picture of myself in my under¬wear to Stanley Kubrick.

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Edward Margulies is one of the executive editors of Movieline