When Emmy-winning actor and producer Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) read entertainment journalist Michael Ausiello’s 2020 bestselling memoir, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, a deeply moving, warts-and-all gay love story about Michael’s 14-year relationship with his late husband Kit Cowan, Parsons immediately saw the cinematic potential in it.
“I’d asked Jim to moderate a Q&A at Barnes and Noble the week that my book came out”, Ausiello shares with The Queer Review. “He was there with his husband, Todd Spiewak, and we were backstage in the green room when Todd mentioned that they were interested in optioning the book for their production company, That’s Wonderful Productions. More than anything at that moment, with the book being so new, it felt like a huge confidence booster. It meant that they had connected with the book and that was wonderful.” It was an offer that came with a star name attached to appear in the film, as Ausiello explains: “When Jim expressed interest in optioning the book, he made it very clear that he was interested in playing me. If I’d had a wish list of who should play me in a movie—which I didn’t—believe me, Jim Parsons would be at or near the top of the list, so it was just a dream come true.”
Although Parsons had of course been familiar with the source material, the impact of taking on the role of Michael in the film surprised him. “I don’t know that I was fully prepared for how meaningful it would be to me and how life-changing it would be to go through this process of portraying the ins and outs and ups and downs of such a well-rounded look at a gay couple”, Parsons reflects. “I’ve never had the chance to do it before. I’ve never worked so intimately with one other actor before on a journey like that and I learned things about myself in the process. It was a powerful experience.”
“It was incredibly meaningful”, concurs Parson’s Spoiler Alert co-star, British Fleabag actor Ben Aldridge, who plays Michael’s partner Kit. “I hadn’t seen or read many queer stories that were centered on the relationship and love. It’s not like the usual stories that we’re told, which I think are essential to learn about ourselves, certainly for my generation. I’ve learned about the history of our queerness through film and through representation, but this isn’t about them suffering at the hands of their queer identity. It’s not about discrimination. It’s not about shame. It’s not about HIV. It’s about a relationship. I love the reality of that in this film in that they weather a long relationship together, which we rarely see on screen or read about. We see the ups and downs of that and what time and what life does to that and how they have to nurture it to keep it going. It’s a realistic, not rose-tinted snapshot of their 14 years together.”
By James Kleinmann
Focus Features will release Spoiler Alert in select theaters on Friday, December 2nd and nationwide on Friday, December 9th, 2022.
Watch our exclusive interviews with Jim Parsons, Ben Aldridge, and Michael Ausiello: