There's a new, little movie in town that defies labels in big ways while showing a whole spectrum of the LGBT community.
Giant Little Ones depicts two best friends involved in a sexual incident that changes their relationship forever. Actor Josh Wiggins plays Franky Winter in this coming-of-age story that delves into youth identity issues. Wiggins, a Texas native, grew up onscreen in films like Hellion, starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis, and the adventure movie Max. Wiggins talked about the new movie during a press tour in New York.
Windy City Times: Growing up in Texas, did you always want to act?
Josh Wiggins: I knew I wanted to be in the industry. I imagined myself more behind the camera. I fell into acting from YouTube videos I made. Once I realized it was what I wanted to do, I took it and ran with it.
WCT: What brought you to Giant Little Ones?
JW: I had worked with the producer Allison Black before in a movie called Mean Dreams. I had connected really well with her and her husband. We got very close from that. I was having dinner with them in L.A. and Allison approached me about this script.
The thing about Allison is that she has an infectious, positive attitude. She can sell you the jeans you are wearing. It's really impressive. When she pitched the script to me, it just had so many nuanced characters and relationships. It dealt with so many themes and sounded interesting. She sent me script and I loved it. I was a part of it from there.
WCT: These nuanced characters you mention are not usually shown on the big screen. Can you talk about that?
JW: Beyond the theme of sexual identity, it covers anyone who has had tension with a loved one, whether it be a friend or family, [and] anyone that has struggled to find an identity at all … I think anybody who has gone through that can relate to this movie. It really does cover all of those things.
WCT: The storyline avoids labeling people. Do you feel that is the future?
JW: Humans for as long as we have been alive have had a tribal mentality. I think people feel compelled to belong to a certain group or label other people. I personally feel that limits self identity. You can go to different communities, whether you are true to your label or not; sometimes it doesn't matter and is not beneficial for growth as a person.
I think that is what is special about this movieit doesn't force anyone who is confused about who they are to conform to any label. I think that sets it apart from other movies that cover the same subject matter.
WCT: How did you relate to your character Franky Winter?
JW: Any kid that has struggled to find their identity can relate to the characters. That is what I tapped into. Working with Keith Behrman, who is very collaborative, open-minded and approachable, and who has all the qualities you want in a director [helped]. How he viewed the character is what the character became.
WCT: What are you thoughts on the character Mouse in the film?
JW: I really like that Keith wrote that in because it's Franky's gateway into that subject matter. Mouse is very confident in who she is, even though her sexual identity is different than people he has met in his life. That offers a really interesting perspective for Franky throughout the story. I think she is a crucial character.
WCT: What did you learn from working with Kyle MacLachlan who plays your gay dad in the movie?
JW: When you work with people who are established in the industry, some people have become numb to it, but Kyle was amazing to work with. We hit it off immediately. He's an easy guy to get along with. In between takes, he would have me cracking up at his overall goofiness. He created a nice environment on set. He offered a lot to draw from.
WCT: I haven't seen many gay dads portrayed like this one on film.
JW: Yes. It added a whole new dynamic to who Franky is as a character.
At the beginning of the story, he leaves and Franky feels he abandoned his family. Franky views the gay community in a very different light at the beginning because of what he goes through with his dad. I think that factors into his growth as a character throughout the story.
WCT: What does the title Giant Little Ones refer to?
JW: It is up for interpretation and is an awesome title. The way I view it is people in a community may feel little or separate than other people, but if they have a voice or have confidence, no matter how they identify, they can have a giant voice or make a giant impact. We are really seeing this in a renaissance of the LGBTQ community.
WCT: Were you bullied in real life like Franky?
JW: I was never shoved into lockers or anything like that, but everyone encounters people who are insecure in who they are and I think that reflects in how they treat other people. I have met people like that who have made me uncomfortable. I think navigating high school is like a mine field, so anyone can relate to that.
WCT: What have you heard from the LGBT community about this movie yet?
JW: The response has been amazing already. With social media, everyone can connect with you and tell you how they feel. What we have received has been rewarding. We want to tap into people who may not be comfortable about who they are or worrying about whatever identity they have. We also wanted to reach people who are not exposed to that community or have much knowledge of it, and educate them. I think this movie does that in an accessible way.
WCT: How did your family like the movie?
JW: My family is supportive of anything I do, so they might go into it with a bias. They haven't seen it through and through, but they like the promotional material. They are excited to see it and I hope they like it.
WCT: You have a new movie coming out called Light From Light?
JW: Yes. I don't know if it has distribution yet, but it premiered at Sundance this past January. It was a really cool film to be a part of. It is a unique film much like Giant Little Ones and I look forward to seeing how people respond to it.
Giant Little Ones makes it big at Chicago theaters on March 15.