By Chris Azzopardi | Q-Syndicate
Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence on queer plumbers in space, LGBT equality and surviving cosmic travel with Beyoncé
Take it from Chris Pratt, who recently experienced being shipped off to a new world: The future is full of promise for the queer population.
“If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community and you’re really good at plumbing, then you know, they’ll send you, I’m sure,” quips one of the hottest actors on earth regarding whether the hibernating pod people aboard the Starship Avalon in his latest action-adventure, “Passengers,” are of varied sexual orientations.
“Anyone who’s valuable to the homestead company and (who) would be worth money to the homestead company would go,” the 37-year-old “Guardians of the Galaxy” star continues, speaking from the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, “so that would include all people from all — the whole spectrum, anyone who could essentially provide a service that’s an old-world service.”
Imagine a world of gay plumbers who aren’t defined by their sexuality but by their ability to unclog toilets. Or one in which Chris Pratt, as Jim Preston, and his “Passengers” co-star Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Aurora Lane, aren’t contemplating anyone’s sexuality. Perhaps sexuality will be but a footnote among the more important qualities that characterize persona, even as Jim prematurely wakes up 90 years ahead of schedule.
“Hopefully we’re well into the future where none of these things are even a conversation anymore, where they’ve gone from issues to conversation to hopefully [being] forgotten about and everybody is treated equally,” said Lawrence, 26. “So, yes. Of course I would assume there’d be diversity.”
Naturally, director Morten Tyldum shares that sentiment. Not only does he have a gay stepdaughter, the filmmaker was behind the camera for the Oscar-winning “Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, as gay computer scientist and famed WWII codebreaker Alan Turing.
“I think, very shortly, it will become a non-issue,” Tyldum said. “As Chris said: If he’s a good plumber, he would be on the ship. Nobody would care if he’s gay, straight, whatever.”
That, he notes, was his approach to 2014’s “Imitation Game,” which was controversial for its absence of gay sex scenes. In an interview with Variety in 2015, the director explained why his Turing wasn’t romantically or sexually engaged with another man.
“It was not because we were afraid it would offend anybody,” he said at the time. “If I … had this thing about a straight character, I would never have a sex scene to prove that he’s heterosexual. If I have a gay character in a movie, I need to have a sex scene in it just to prove that he’s gay?”
In “Passengers,” Pratt and Lawrence, known for her Oscar-winning performance in “Silver Linings Playbook” and as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games” franchise, do go at it. But Tyldum, who admits sex scenes in films are “very complicated,” explained this sexy scene is necessary for character development.
“The sex scene in ‘Passengers’ is there because it’s a relationship — it’s between the two main characters — and there’s a sex moment because it’s about these two characters,” he said. “I think to have a sex scene it needs to have a story moment, going from the two strangers to becoming a couple.”
The difference, the director points out, is that “to have a sex scene in ‘Imitation Game’ would have been there to sort of prove that Alan Turing is gay,” which, like the hypothetical gay pod people, would minimize more qualifying human attributes.
For “Counterpart,” an upcoming espionage-themed thriller Tyldum shot for Starz, the filmmaker reveals one of the leads is gay “for no other reason than that person is gay.”
“It’s not made an issue,” he added. “He just happens to be gay.”
Conversations with his stepdaughter led to him underplaying the gay character’s sexuality both in “Imitation Game” and “Counterpart.” The sex in “Passengers,” on the other hand, builds upon Pratt and Lawrence’s chemistry. Hypothetically, could a movie this blockbuster-sized involve two queer lovers in space?
“I think that that will come sooner than we think,” Tyldum said. “But there’s always going to be the challenge that the more an audience can identify with the character — there’s a bigger group of heterosexuals than gay people, but I think we’ll be seeing more and more.”
Meanwhile, you decide if “Passengers” benefits from a hetero sex scene and — bonus! — two shots of Pratt’s bare bottom.
Lawrence relishes the fact that “we could just keep diving in” — no, she wasn’t exactly talking about sexy time with Pratt. She was referring to the “original script.”
“It’s really rare that you get to be so intimate with filmmaking,” she said, not meaning “intimate” in the way most of us do when we refer to Chris Pratt. “It’s normally an ensemble. I’ve never worked with so few actors before. I was very excited to be stuck in space in Atlanta with them.”
Shot on a 1,000-foot-tall, four-story concourse adorned with eight miles of LED lights, Pratt likens the confined set to a stage play.
“It did feel more intimate than anything I’ve ever done,” he said.
What other celebrity would they be keen on sharing such close quarters with?
“Oprah! Beyoncé!” Lawrence blurted. “No, I’d get jealous of Beyoncé after a while and, like, probably rip her hair out.”
Pratt, on the other end, wants “someone really funny.”
“Well, my wife [Anna Faris] is famous, so I’m gonna say, of course my wife,” Pratt said. “I would take my wife. But I would try to do someone really funny, maybe like George Carlin.”
Unless, of course, you know any famous gay plumbers.
—Chris Azzopardi is the editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBT wire service. Reach him via his website at chris-azzopardi.com and on Twitter @chrisazzopardi.