The rom-com Fire Island, debuting June 3, is ready on that coastal neighborhood off Lengthy Island, favored by queer New Yorkers way back to the Thirties. The scenic locale — freed from automobiles and inhabited by a inhabitants of white-tailed deer — has served as a movie backdrop earlier than, most notably in Ryan Murphy’s 2014 adaptation of The Regular Coronary heart for HBO, and earlier than that within the 1989 ensemble drama Longtime Companion.
In each, Fireplace Island is depicted as a homosexual utopia, a carefree bacchanal quickly to finish with the looks of a mysterious and lethal sickness that appears to be focusing on homosexual males. Companion — which was launched because the AIDS epidemic was nonetheless raging, with seemingly no remedies in sight — was a breakthrough in each sense of the phrase.
Written by playwright Craig Lucas and helmed by theater director Norman René, it was solely the second mainstream movie to handle AIDS (the primary was the 1985 TV film An Early Frost). The title referred to a euphemism employed by The New York Occasions for surviving companions of AIDS victims. And the movie, which spans the primary eight years of the epidemic, begins with its forged of then largely unknowns — together with Dermot Mulroney, then 25, Campbell Scott, 27, and Mary-Louise Parker, 24 — stress-free on Fireplace Island and discussing a Occasions report figuring out a “uncommon most cancers” in “41 homosexuals.”
Patrick Cassidy was 26 when he was forged as Howard, a cleaning soap star who loses his accomplice to AIDS. “I lived in New York Metropolis from ’81 to ’86 straight,” Cassidy recollects. “I acquired to know what it was all about. We knew we have been doing one thing crucial [with this film].” Cassidy remembers audiences “audibly weeping” at early screenings — notably throughout Bruce Davison’s bedside goodbye to his dying accomplice, in a task that earned Davison an Oscar nomination (the Academy’s first recognition of AIDS, predating Philadelphia by 4 years).
Audiences wept for the finale, too, a fantasy the place the useless and dwelling reunite on Fireplace Island’s shores. “I misplaced a few of my biggest mates to AIDS,” Cassidy says. “It modified me.” René, who died in 1996, was one in every of them.
This story first appeared within the June 1 situation of The Hollywood Reporter journal. Click here to subscribe.