Isn’t It Romantic star on his thirsty gay following, what straights can learn from gays and being a ‘bear cub’
By Chris Azzopardi
Even now, Adam Devine just wants to dance with some bodies. So, as Josh in Isn’t it Romantic, the comedian known for flexing his funny-guy chops in Comedy Central’s Workaholics (which he also co-wrote) and ABC’s Modern Family, keeps the love strong with Pitch Perfect co-star Rebel Wilson in their new self-aware anti-rom-com. With assists from a satirical gay sidekick (Brandon Scott Jones of NBC’s The Good Place) and Whitney Houston and Madonna musical numbers, the film also stars, of course, Liam Hemsworth as the man of everyone’s dreams – though, in this case, the unconscious literal one that Wilson’s Natalie falls into.
During a recent call, Devine spoke about his bear-cub identity, tactfully tackling LGBTQ storylines and the popularity of his penis on gay blogs.
Charming rom-com, Adam, but where’s the movie where you end up with the gay sidekick?
(Laughs) Maybe that’s the sequel.
That’s the movie Hollywood needs to make next.
Yeah, you might be right.
In your version of that movie, what guy would play the sidekick you fall for?
I mean, Liam. If I’m a gay dude, I want the hunk. I’m goin’ hunky!
You get to a do a Whitney and Madonna musical number in the movie. Do you know enough gay men to know that these women are gay icons?
I do, yeah. I’ve got a good handful of gay friends and they keep me abreast of what’s hot in the gay culture: Whitney, Britney Spears also. We should’ve done a Britney Spears tribute.
What was your earliest exposure to the LGBTQ community?
I guess my cousin came out as gay and I was much younger than him and that was the first time that I knew anyone who was gay. He came out to the family, and then we all knew, and then you’d see him at holidays and stuff, and it was cool. You’re like, “Oh, I love my cousin, he’s the man, he’s a great guy.” It normalized the whole thing.
Do you hear from LGBTQ fans on Twitter?
Yeah, I do sometimes. I’ve been told that I’m a bear cub, so I’m not a full-on bear. I think I’m too tiny, so I’m a bear cub is what my gay buddies tell me.
You don’t seem to have enough body hair to be a bear cub.
Well, I’m not afraid to ‘scape. I manscape. And I think that’s important. I don’t want puffy t-shirts, that’s the issue. That’s the reason I do it.
You don’t want hair lumps.
Yeah, I don’t want weird puffs around my nipples from my hair, so I gotta maintain.
Your role in Game Over, Man!, particularly your full-frontal scene: What did that do for your gay following?
(Laughs) I noticed some fan blogs, and I’m like, “Oh, cool, a fan blog, they’re spreading the word,” and then I’m just like, “Oh, it’s very gay and it’s just every naked photo I’ve ever taken.”
So by fan blog you mean GayTube.com?
Yeah, basically. I’m not sure if that’s the one, but yes.
If you go to an Adam Devine story on an LGBTQ website, you’ll likely find some guys in the comments crushing on you. One gay commenter noted your role on Modern Family and that your brand of adorkable is one he finds sexy.
I love it.
How often does that interest from gay men translate to real life? Do guys hit on you?
No, I don’t think so. I mean, I have a girlfriend. I think it’s known that I don’t go that way. But, admittedly, gay guys don’t care – they swing for the fence. I think straight guys need to learn something from the gay community. They’re so afraid!
Is the first gay thing you did in your professional life an episode of The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman called “Dykes Like Us” or does your pro-gay history go back even further?
(Laughs) I guess that is the first thing!
Tell me about that experience.
You know, I don’t even remember – I had such a small part on that show. (Creator) Laura (Kightlinger) cast me in it and she was just really cool and great. We ended up casting her as a MILF who uses me for sex on Workaholics and it turns out I can’t handle it. It’s too much. I can’t handle everything she’s giving me.
Regarding your role in Pitch Perfect, Rebel once told me: “I think most of the Treblemakers, the boy band, are gay. What about that scene where there’s, like, nine dudes in a hot tub … naked? That’s totally gay.” Can we explore this? Is it gay for dudes who love a cappella to be in a hot tub together?
If they are fucking each other it is. But just to sit in a hot tub, that could go any which way!
How does kissing Rebel compare to kissing Zac Efron?
Weirdly, same amount of lip gloss. (Laughs)
Vanilla! Boysenberry! With Rebel it lasts a little longer; with Zac it was one brother kissing another brother, so it wasn’t a sensual kiss in any way.
In an episode of Workaholics called “Gayborhood” you and your buddies inadvertently end up in Palm Springs for a Pride party that you don’t know is a gay Pride party and you guys pretend to be “threeway gay.” Did that episode get you invited to more gay parties?
(Laughs) With Workaholics we really prided ourselves on tackling issues but not really tackling the issues. And we really wanted to make ourselves the butt of every joke. I remember that day this casting director was coming to set, and he wanted to meet me. It just so happened to line up on that episode that he was gonna come to set. Everybody was so worried, and my manager was worried and they’re like, “We wanna cancel. We wanna do it another day. We don’t want him to get the wrong impression of you as an actor,” and I’m like, “It’s a funny episode, and we’re the butt of every joke here. We’re the idiots.” And then he came on set and he was like, “This is the funniest episode of television I’ve ever seen.”
The episode was also well-received by critics. Did that surprise you?
It honestly didn’t because gay guys are cool as hell and they get it and they understand what’s funny and what’s offensive. I think you can’t be offended by everything and you have to have a sense of humor about things. I wasn’t surprised that the gay community has a sense of humor. It meant that we’re doing something right and that people understand what we’re trying to do, and that we’re not just out to be shock comedians, or we’re not crude for crude’s sake. It all comes from a good place… and I think the shock was that it came from us. Like, people on the outside looking in, you probably wouldn’t think that we’d be the guys to deliver that sort of message. But hey, turns out we are!
For that episode, how was it determined that you look more like a bottom?
Oh, I think in the writers’ room that’s what happened. (Laughs) I don’t know how or why. I think my ass is kind of on and poppin’, so that must’ve been it.
In general, how conscious are you of finding the balance between what can pass as gay humor and what can be perceived as offensive to the LGBTQ community?
We all have gay friends, and if you think maybe they could take this the wrong way – we don’t want to alienate anyone or make anyone feel like they’re not in on the joke – then you just check in with your gay buds and say, like, “Hey, what do you think of this? Is this funny or is this weird?” People aren’t afraid to tell you the truth if you’re upfront and honest with them.
Jumping back to Isn’t It Romantic, I’m glad to see the movie is inclusive and there’s a fun gay sidekick, but I’m gonna hold you to this rom-com where you and Liam are romantic leads.
(Laughs) I’ve got the idea for the spinoff!
You can credit me, but also you don’t have to because after Love, Simon I just want our community to have more rom-coms with lead characters who happen to be gay.
I’m with you. Where it’s not something that is kept in the closet or that anyone’s ashamed about. It’s just loud and proud. I like that idea.
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.