Trevor Wright photographed by Clinton Gaughran for AfterElton
At 30 years old, Trevor Wright can claim his ride in the entertainment industry has been both varied and very long. He began as a GAP spokeskid who landed a role in Paula Abdul‘s “Forever Your Girl” video alongside Elijah Wood, and he grew up landing roles on The George Lopez Show, NYPD Blue, Scrubs, and Boston Public. Then came the role for which AfterElton.com readers tend to be most appreciative: Zack in Shelter, the 2007 independent gay romance written by the film’s director Jonah Markowitz. Wright’s innocence and sensitivity in the role helped seal its position in our poll of the 100 greatest gay films ever — it came in at #1. Yes, ahead of Brokeback Mountain. Anne Hathaway’s resentment is palpable.
Wright is currently working on a web series with collaborators Tim Sullivan and Brian McCulley (the director and producer responsible for “I Was a Teenage Werebear,” the segment of Chillerama featuring Sean Paul Lockhart, a.k.a. Brent Corrigan, plus the Wright-starring horror romp 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams), as well as a small fashion empire. His Facebook page features a video of his recent Google Hangout with fans.
We caught up with the actor — who was also adorable in The Social Network in a bit role — to discuss Shelter‘s impact on fans and maintaining interest in the entertainment industry.
AfterElton: It’s been five years since Shelter came out, and the popularity of this tiny film among gay filmgoers endures. Why do you think it’s such a cherished movie?
Trevor Wright: It’s such a beautiful story; that’s what’s really captivated everyone’s attention, the love, and that it’s such a happy, feel-good movie. From when I got the script and read it for the first time, the first thing that came to my mind was, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything this beautiful told for the most part.” I had so many reservations about not knowing if it’d go one way or another, maybe if it’d be a super cheesy movie. You know, when you read it, it’s just beautiful; there are sunsets and the ocean, and the relationship aspect of it all could easily go another direction. When I sat down with the director Jonah [Markowitz], he clarified it for me that he really wanted to get the grit of the chemistry between these two characters. I was on board. I think that’s what everyone sees in the movie because everybody speaks about it so highly. It has helped people come out. It’s so relatable.
AE: What scenes required the most preparation?
TW: Truthfully, I think it was such an emotional roller coaster throughout the whole movie. As an actor, I didn’t want to really rehearse — Jonah was wanting to rehearse the scenes with Brad Rowe and I to make sure the chemistry was there. “Let’s practice. Let’s roll around on the bed.” I didn’t want to practice. I wanted it to be so organic and come off as natural, because that was the story with my character Zack, that was his whole story. He didn’t know if he was gay or straight. He wasn’t “born gay.” He had such a strong bond with this guy and was so intrigued by Shaun’s character that Zack just dove in for it and really wanted to explore the idea where he did find himself being truly attracted to this guy. That’s what I’m such a supporter in the community, doing the NOH8 campaigns, and talking to the fans. This movie has given me the opportunity to speak about these things.
AE: What do your gay fans usually say when they approach you?
TW: It’s usually that I played the character so true, that it’s one of the best movies they’ve ever seen. The #1 thing I hear is that Shelter has helped them get their own lives in order so they could come out with confidence and speak to their family and friends. Sometimes it’s that they watch the movie when they’re down, and it picks them up.