In the amusing romcom, “I Love America,” out April 29 on Amazon Prime, Djanis Bouzyani steals his every scene as Luka, the gay best friend of Lisa (Sophie Marceau), a French filmmaker who has come to Los Angeles to start her life over.
Luka helps Lisa get on dating apps — even though he himself has little luck with finding a man for more than one night. His luck possibly changes when his vintage car is damaged by a valet (Keller Wortham).
Bouzyani is utterly charming in the film. He also gets to perform as a drag queen at a bar during the film’s closing credits. The actor recently spoke with Philadelphia Gay News about his new film.
Playing a best friend and being a drag queen has become such a gay stereotype. How did you lean into or away from that?
I never think about stereotypes. A 50-year-old woman who wants new life is a stereotype, also. Everything starts as a stereotype, and you do your own thing. Luka has both a shyness and a darkness, which was interesting to play.
“Clichés” actually do much for our community. They are loud, and not afraid to go out in the street screaming and being queer and in drag. They helped the community get better, it’s not the people who hide and are politically correct. We have to give credit to those kinds of people, not the ones who just go to work, and stay home and watch football, and have a barbeque. We can’t forget those folks who helped so much for LGBT acceptance.
What can you say about Luka’s self-worth? He is a cheerleader for Lisa, but often down on himself.
I think it’s easier to live your life as the best friend. When you don’t have courage to live it for yourself, it’s easy to live it through someone you love. It’s always easier to push people than push yourself. It’s less scary.
What did you think about the scene where Luka suggests Lisa get an HIV test? It’s interesting to include that in a romcom, but an important message.
I was surprised. In movies, you never see straight people get tested. It was interesting, in my personal life I have straight friends who have HIV, but thank God, today you can treat it.
You and Keller Wortham have limited screen time together, and I wanted to see more. What can you say about your on-screen relationship?
I loved his charisma. When I saw the film, I thought it was too bad we didn’t have more scenes as a couple. Everyone told me they wanted more of their relationship. It was just the beginning. We should have another movie for them!
Lisa loves films set and shot in LA. What films inspire you?
I’m a big fan of movies like “Some Like it Hot,” “Gentleman Prefers Blondes,” “My Fair Lady,” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” I like “Pretty Woman,” but I’m not really a fan of modern movies.
Do you have a pet, and is it a turtle like Luka does?
No. I am from Morocco, and when you are a kid, you get a pet, and it is a turtle. I had 3-4 turtles as a child. Now I have two cats, Oscar and Cesar, and they are super cute. They are like dogs. They go out with me and walk with me.
Are you into yoga and silks, or is this just playing into an LA trend?
I am so paradoxical. It depends on my mood. If you tell me I have to shoot tomorrow, I’m doing yoga for 24 hours, but if not, I am staying in bed watching old movies and eating junk food with my cat and my lover. I’m not as healthy as Luka.
Luka goes hiking. Are you into hiking?
Yes, I love it. I love being outside in nature. In Paris, we don’t have the chance to do it like in LA, but I try to get out to the countryside.
Do you drive a vintage car?
I wish! I don’t drive in Paris. It is easier to walk or take the train. I got my driver’s license just for the movie!
Was it fun to have a bedroom scene in “I Love America”?
No. because it wasn’t really a bedroom scene. I would love a really nice one, one day, that goes with the story. This was more funny than romantic. I can do better!
What are your thoughts on dating apps?
They are amazing for people who work a lot, or are too shy, or in a place where they can’t connect easily. Even Instagram has become a dating app!
Did you enjoy performing in drag?
It was so stressful! It takes a long time to get ready. I was happy to do it, at the end of the day. It was real work, and it took a lot of guts and energy to do it. When I was on set, I was so stressed — more than the regular scenes. I liked it very much, but I’ve never done it before. You really have to be not lazy to do drag. I’m too lazy to be a drag queen.