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Derek James and Charlie David: The strong gay-straight alliance behind “Mulligans”

When you watch the film Mulligans, you are definitely struck by the on-screen chemistry between the movie’s two best friends – one gay, one straight – played by Charlie David and Derek James. But the chemistry is tested when Tyler (James) invites college buddy Chase (David) home for the summer holidays and the friend begins an affair with Tyler’s secretly gay father (Dan Payne).

Despite the on-screen drama, the rapport between Derek and Charlie came easily because they have been the best of friends  for nearly a decade. Another similarity is that Charlie – best known as Toby on Dante’s Cove -  is gay and Derek is straight.

“We’re really proud of it,” Derek said of Mulligans. “We were just a couple of people trying to do what we wanted to do. It was sort of interesting to show up and work and go, ‘Oh wow. We’ve never really done this before.’ We had talked about it but then we were actually doing it. It’s just easier. In the world of writing, if you’re lucky enough to have two actors who are actually friends, you don’t have to give so much exposition because the chemistry’s just naturally there so the audience believes them because it’s real.”

Derek and I chatted about the film and his friendship with Charlie at the monthly The Smoking Cocktail mixer at O Bar in West Hollywood last night. He showed up to promote the movie – a sensation on the film festival circuit for the past year – because it comes out on DVD Tuesday. Derek was in a particularly good mood because he had just been nominated for the Canadian Leo Award for best supporting actor for his performance in the film. (Dan Payne was nominated for best actor. The awards will be held in May.) said of Charlie: “We were roommates and he was the best man at my wedding – I was married  for awhile – so working together isn’t really work, it’s just sort of life. Thank God he’s smart because I just like coming up with funny ideas.”

In the film, Charlie’s character of Chace comes out to his friend during the early part of the summer after Tyler keeps trying to get him to hook up with one of the girls. It echoed real life about 10 years earlier.

“That’s real for Charlie and I. We were friends and I just sort of didn’t question it. I gotta be honest, I was sometimes suspicious but I didn’t care about it, it didn’t matter. And then he told me it was like, ‘Okay, sure. Whatever. Can we just go back to being normal now?” … I’ve been going to gay clubs with Charlie since I was like 20. It was like, ‘Let’s go to your world, you come to my world all the time.’ When you’re younger, of course, in these types if environments, you’re so insecure and anxious of course. You project way more on to everyone that you meet and I remember that from my youth. But after awhile it’s like, ‘Whatever.’”"

Of course, in the early days Charlie was not yet one of the most famous openly gay actors in television and film. His series Dante’s Cove has just been renewed for a fourth season, he wrote and produced Mulligans, and was one of the stars of the hit indie films A Four Letter Word and Kiss the Bride. He also hosts the travel series Bump!

Says Derek of his very handsome friend: “It’s funny to walk around with him, it’s like walking around with the gay world’s Brad Pitt.”

Mulligans is not the end of their professional collaborations. Derek and Charlie are teaming up again for a new film called Happy Hour which they hope to begin production on by the end of the year. While Charlie wrote Mulligans, this time it is Derek who wrote the script.

“Now we get to make our next movie so we’re really excited about that. It’s going to be an outrageously dry comedy. Knowing that we succeeded once, we can do it again. Charlie and I will be the buddies in the film. It’s a really silly comedy about a family. It’ll be quite different from Mulligans but the same quality.”

So, is he playing straight again?

“Yes,” he said. (laughs). “But I play gay in the movie though, that’s one of the fun parts. I don’t want to give it all away but I’m straight playing gay in the film to help out his friend.”

But Charlie’s character is gay in this film, thankfully. Still, Derek says: “We try not to make gay a thing. Like we have a gay marriage take place in the film. We want that to just exist naturally like it’s not a big thing. Nobody talks about it like it’s an issue. People understand that it is a huge issue, of course, but we just like pushing the envelope creatively and have a good time watching a movie.”

Here are a few scenes from the movie:



(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

10 Remarks

  1. I just finished watching the movie “Mulligans.” Wonderful! Chemistry was great between the characters; you could see the actors were enjoying their work.

    The ending was the only area that I think needed work.

    Looking to see more from this team!


  2. I saw the movie via Netflix. It exceeded my expectation for this type of movie. Superb acting from both Thea Gill and Derek James. Horrible acting from Dan Payne and Charlie David — which is sad because it was really important that the audience connect with these two. Couldn’t they have gotten a better actor for the role of Chase? When the world started falling apart after the affair, the reactions from both the father and Chase are unrealistic and poorly acted. Plus, it was almost as if the movie wanted to justify adultery because it was a gay affair. You don’t feel bad for the father and Chase at all. As a gay person, I’m embarrassed that gays are portrayed as these types. The Chase character was especially disgusting — going after your best friend’s father while you are a guest at their home and wrecking their family. Sure, if the father is going to come out and do it then he will… but it didn’t have to be with Chase. Then at the end of the movie we are supposed to feel sorry for Chase and forgive him. I don’t think so. This movie was saved by the superb acting of Thea Gill and Derek James.

  3. Saw Mulligans on Sunday, again….for the fourth time….I thought
    the acting was supurb….by everyone……Dan Payne is hot, as well
    as, Derek……..

    The remarks by Joe was unfounded, I feel.

  4. This is my 2nd time watching Mulligans. Wish there could have been more chemistry between Dan Payne and Charlie David. Would have been nice to see the 2 of them riding off into the sunset. Anyway, it is a great film and I will surely watch it again.

  5. @Joe – I disagree with your comments regarding Derek and Charlie. They are 2 young college buddies. They portrayed their characters very well.

  6. I happened on this movie and watched a few minutes. When I realized that these two had been friends for 10 years and the straight didn’t know the other was gay? Come on! Watching Charlie David for about 2.5 seconds his sexuality was all over the screen. I had never seen him befor!

  7. Just watched this on Netflix. I thought it was well written and acted. I highly recommend it.

  8. I just saw this movie on Netflicks. I totally agree with Jeff from CA in his comment. I enjoy this movie very much and that little I want to see more of. But I have to be honest, …Tyler is one handsome looking man. I was hoping to see the three of them get it on! But’s just how us gays think when we’re thinking with our p****; I do have some class~/ha.
    Aloha from Hawaii to you all and HUGE Mahalo for such a great time watching you ‘All at your best~~~.
    Mr. Rommel Marcelino

  9. I forgot to mention that I can’t believe I’ve not seen much of Derek James. His acting was great in this film. Dug the way he parted ways with his buddy on the bench at the end. Everything from kicking the grass with his left foot, shaking the right from what even made me nervous/ha, to going from saying that he wasn’t good with this sentimental crap to the serious ‘Take care of yourself.

    …’Go Stealers man! Job well done Mr. James~.
    Aloha again from Hawaii (; if I may).
    Mr Rommel Marcelino

  10. The movie was unexpectedly great! Watching movies in the gay and lesbian section of Netflix, I found most of them cheesy. When I saw Chase I thought the movie would be a clichè film because of his stereotypical overdone hair and make up but the lust in me wouldn’t let me turn the channel off of Dan Payne…Woof!!!!! A great movie overall. The hopeless romantic wishes they would’ve become a couple, what better guy to welcome to the family!, The pig in me wants Dan Payne to come find me… Haha! though the adultery was morally wrong, I’d forgive him… If Nathan were any of the other actor, I wouldn’t have been so forgiving… But Nathan was so adorably acted by his fatherly compassion and his reserved approach to everything made him irresistibly sexy.. I’m sorry but his acting was perfect from Dan Payne and also Thea Gill.

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