Deep Inside Hollywood: Ben Whishaw

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Ben Whishaw in front of a purple background with the words Deep Inside Hollywood on the right side
Deep Inside Hollywood: Ben Whishaw

Ben Whishaw to play gay artist Peter Hujar for Ira Sachs

Go catch up on director Ira Sachs’ bracing drama from last year, Passages, about an unrepentantly toxic queer man and the lovers whose lives he almost ruins, and you’ll see acclaimed actor Ben Whishaw (Paddington) in a startling new light as a spurned partner with no plans to be anyone’s victim. And for Whishaw’s next project, he’s reteaming with Sachs for a film about the late artist Peter Hujar.

Hujar was a contemporary of Robert Mapplethorpe, Nan Goldin, and David Wojnarowicz, and his stunning photos from ’80s New York (he died in 1987 from AIDS) are a thrilling, erotic, and sorrowful time capsule of the era. There are no other details at this time, but the prospect of Hujar becoming more known outside art circles for his amazing work is the kind of queer culture legacy building we like to see. More to come on this one.

Stephanie Hsu’s plans are Laid

You know queer actor Stephanie Hsu from her Academy Award-nominated performance in Everything Everywhere All At Once and winning supporting turn on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, both projects that were inventive at their core. And now Hsu will take on another high-concept, equally inventive project: Laid. Based on the Australian TV series of the same name, it’s a comedy about a woman who discovers that people she’s had sex with are dying one by one, in strange ways, and she has to go back to the past to deal with the patterns she was part of and what went wrong, both in love and in herself.

No word yet on a timeline, other cast, or really anything else at all. But if it’s a sort of time-traveling Basic Instinct where people get to come back to life and stay horny for each other, that’s sort of heartwarming.

Lukas Gage joins the cast of the next Smile

Smile, one of 2022’s surprise horror hits (to the tune of over $200 million), is readying its sequel and queer up-and-comer Lukas Cage (Fargo, The White Lotus) will star opposite Naomi Scott (Aladdin) for the currently-untitled project. Franchise creator Parker Finn will return to direct from his own script — one that will, we are led to understand, see the return of the spooky entity terrorizing the first film’s cast, as well as address intentionally ambiguous elements from that opening chapter.

Actor Kyle Gallner will reprise his role from the original movie, and Rosemarie DeWitt will join the supporting cast. Everything else is a big secret, naturally, because nothing ruins horror like too much information, and it’s all set to creep into theaters in October of this year.

It’s time to soak Broadway with Purple Rain

We could spend forever arguing about Prince as a queer icon and/or homophobe or we can just accept that he shook the ground under all of us while wearing a tiny bikini and thigh-high boots. Which means Purple Rain is LGBTQ canon, the recently announced musical theater adaptation is gay pride, and you can go talk to Wendy & Lisa about it if you disagree.

Nothing’s happened yet beyond the announcement of a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Appropriate) and planned direction by Tony nominee Lileana Blain-Cruz (The Skin of Our Teeth). But really, what more do you need but the thrill of anticipation? Dig if you will, the picture of a thorough hunt — on the level of the Funny Girl revival — for a person who can embody the lovesexy of it all for a live audience. Those are some tall high heels to fill. We’ll be waiting.

Romeo San Vicente just wants your extra time and your kiss.