There are few movies more unabashedly fun, campy and colorful than the 1999 cult comedy “Jawbreaker,” in which Rose McGowan plays a high school student who accidentally murders her best friend and then struts down the hallway as if everything is peachy keen.
Now, “Jawbreaker” director and NYU alumnus Darren Stein has returned with “G.B.F.,” premiering at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. WSN spoke with Stein about making his new film and what exactly the definition of a G.B.F. is.
“A G.B.F. is a gay best friend,” Stein said, citing Carrie Bradshaw and Stanford Blatch’s friendship on “Sex and the City” as an example of television setting the trend. “I think it’s a really special, unique and privileged relationship because there’s a closeness and an intimacy to it.”
“I’ve been G.B.F. to the same girl for, I wanna say, almost 17 or 18 years,” he added. “She’s my best friend, and she calls me her gay husband. She’s been married and divorced, she’s had boyfriends, but we’re always there for each other. It’s something that only a gay man and his girlfriend can understand.”
Still, as Stein pointed out, the gay best friend is often seen as a fashion accessory rather than an actual friend.
“I’ve met friends who have daughters who go to high school, and they’re telling their parents now, ‘Mom, I want a G.B.F.,’” Stein said. “That can’t be purchased at Forever 21 … it’s a special relationship with another human being. So really, I think it comes down to being a good person and treating the other person as an individual and with respect.”
Stein admitted that he enjoys casting older actors as teenagers — McGowan was 25 when “Jawbreaker” came out — but he made an exception for Sasha Pieterse. Pieterse, who plays the devilish Alison DiLaurentis on “Pretty Little Liars,” is another mean girl and queen bee in “G.B.F.,” and she was only 16 when the film was shot.
“Sasha has this preternatural brightness about her,” Stein said. “She has this great sophistication. She’s kind of like a little woman.”
Stein spoke fondly of his memories as a student at NYU.
“I lived in Rubin residence hall, and it was awesome,” Stein said. “For a kid from Encino [Calif.], you know, the Valley, to suddenly go to a super metropolis like New York … it was just a rush of life I had never experienced.”
Stein also revealed that he actually came out of the closet when he was a sophomore.
“I think you find yourself in that first four years of college,” he said.
Stein explored a similar path of discovery for viewers in “G.B.F.”
“‘G.B.F.’ has a lot of heart, which is great,” Stein said. “‘Jawbreaker’ was pretty cool, but it’s definitely … darker. Whereas this, I think, it was really about people coming together and treating each other as equals.”
Jeremy Grossman is film editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.