Benjamin Lutz :: ’Love Patient’s’ actor has the ’It’ factor
As time goes by and American culture continues to evolve, Benjamin Lutz is something of a new Hollywood phenomenon: an actor beginning his career with full disclosure about being gay. His role in the comedy film, "The Love Patient" (available on DVD) proves that he has what those in the business of show, call the "It" factor.
Writer/director Michael Simon saw that special something and cast Lutz as the lead in his film, which is the actor’s second film role and Simon’s feature-film debut as a director (after a number of well-received shorts). Simon saw that the actor has the charisma, charm and talent to make a well-written character on page, come to life on screen.
Lutz shared a glimpse of his opinion on being openly gay in Hollywood, how important "humor" is in bringing out emotions and the comedy fireworks of family drama in "The Love Patient" with EDGE Media Network.
Getting in front of the camera
EDGE: "The Love Patient" is really enjoyable. It’s nice to see that kind of quality in a gay comedy. Are you a California native?
Benjamin Lutz: Definitely not a native, I’m a Texas native, though, now I live in California like any other crazy actor. I live in Los Angeles and have been living here for a while.
EDGE: What drew you into the acting profession?
Benjamin Lutz: I’ve always been there doing it... from an early age. It always had different purposes. I went to school for directing theatre. I never really thought I would be acting in movies. I always wanted to work my way into writing movies or directing movies. When you get out to L.A., you realize you have to have a lot of experience and one of the only things you can do, is get in front of the camera.
It’s actually one of those things, when you come out here, you figure out how to get into it any way. It was that way.
EDGE: You have a naturally appealing quality in the film. I imagine you’ve heard this before but you’re like the love child of Eric McCormick from "Will & Grace" and Thomas Gibson from "Dharma and Greg."
Benjamin Lutz: In all honesty...no! I’ve never been told that before. I’m in love with both of those actors. I grew up on "Will & Grace," so I think that’s pretty fantastic and Thomas was in "Tales of the City." So, dude, I of course, grew up on those. I have to say "thank you." Everything I can say about them is very, very positive.
Being out - a non-issue?
EDGE: I wanted to just briefly talk about your decision and your opinion on being an openly gay actor. Do you feel that if someone has real acting talent, that it’s a non-issue?
Benjamin Lutz: There are two things... working and being good at a part and having chemistry with the other actor. You can play so many different kinds of characters doing a film. So, actually doing your job... no. But, I would be foolish not to say that it does come into account. Rightfully so, sometimes when I see an actor in a gay movie and I find out he’s not gay... I say sometimes, "Ohhh, that’s kind of sad."
You can go back and forth. I can say that being out is going to help me and possibly going to hinder. There is that sort of sexual attraction where sometimes it’s nice to know if he is "playing for your team" or not playing for your team. There is a stigma but I try and look at it in a good way. It actually, in a weird way, could help.
EDGE: A person’s sexuality is not part of an actor’s resume...
Benjamin Lutz: It has nothing to do with you being a good actor or you being able to deliver the part. Yet, if you stop and think how "Twitteresque" our society is now, is they want to know things about you and sometimes, that can really get you a following.
EDGE: The initial premise of "The Love Patient" is difficult since it deals with someone saying they have cancer: a fatal disease and funny don’t go together.
Benjamin Lutz: (Laughter) When you see the movie, sometimes it does!
Touching and funny
EDGE: Exactly! Michael Simon’s script makes it happen with humor and touching results. His writing manages to stay one step away from the cliff of absurdity. The film blends those two elements together.
Benjamin Lutz: I have to completely agree. When you audition, there is a quick tagline to read before you audition. I thought it was going to be a much more black comedy. Going back and forth in the script, it was almost like "slapstick." The film gives you something that not even I was expecting.
EDGE: I also really enjoyed Laura Ulsh’s performance as your mother in the film. It’s almost like she is Divine’s little sister in this role.
Benjamin Lutz: That’s hysterical. I would have never thought that. She is a bit like Divine though I’m not sure if she would eat dog poo off the floor...
EDGE: No! It’s her wacky way of being sort of like Divine’s character in "Hairspray." I say that as a compliment and I noticed that from the first shot of her on the phone.
Benjamin Lutz: That cut-to is so fantastic. I love that. I could tell that she was almost going to steal the show. Every single time, she was just "on" and crazy and fun. Every time she was on camera, she was so lit up.
EDGE: The chemistry of all the actors really shows in "The Love Patient." Your chemistry with actor, John Werskey who plays "Paul," your former lover, in the film is great.
Benjamin Lutz: He’s a great guy and really fun to be around. I have to say that Michael Simon, the director, really helped us a lot with that. He had a very good eye as to how we were going to pull this off. I remember his direction on getting the witty banter going between us and having the audience actually rooting for us. He wanted to make sure that there was a spark between us, every single time. That was really in the writing, too.
EDGE: It’s been a pleasure, Benjamin.
Benjamin Lutz: Thank you so much for your time, man.
For more on "The Love Patient," such as where to buy it in stores and on-line, visit The Love Patient website.
Watch the trailer to The Love Patient: