Indie Darling

12.13.12

Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt Explore Gay Adoption in ‘Any Day Now’

Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt star in Any Day Now, a film about a gay couple trying to adopt a mentally disabled child. By Maria Elena Fernandez.

Any Day Now opens in a bar where Alan Cumming as Rudy, a drag queen, is singing the ’70s disco hit “Come to Me.” Across the room, Rudy spots the handsome man of his dreams and seduces him with his performance. The dreamboat is a closeted district attorney named Paul, played by Garret Dillahunt of Raising Hope.

Cumming and Dillahunt in love. What more do we need?

Yet Any Day Now is about so much more. Although it’s a period piece, the inspiring story couldn’t be more contemporary as Rudy and Paul fight to adopt a special needs child severely neglected by his drug-addicted mother while they have to hide the true nature of their relationship from society. After raising him with his jailed mother’s permission, Rudy and Paul lose Marco (played by 22-year-old newcomer Isaac Leyva) when authorities discover their living arrangement and they have to face off with the legal system to win their son back. To say more about the plot would spoil it, but the love between Rudy, Paul, and Marco, a teen with Down syndrome, never waivers and is always completely believable.

Directed by Travis Fine, this film-festival darling will break your heart as often as it warms it, and it will leave you deep in thought over love, equality, and the meaning of family. It is a reminder that the prejudice rampant in the late ’70s against gays persists even at a time when same-sex couples can adopt children in 16 states and get married in 10 of them.

“As a member of society, I feel strongly that there are so many inequities and issues of equality and to be able to try to do something that could potentially change people’s minds was a big part of why I wanted to do this film,” said Cumming, who married his partner, Grant Shaffer, this year. “I recognized something of myself in Rudy. I get very upset by injustice, and in that situation, I might have done the same thing with Marco. I felt he’s so feisty and ballsy. Suddenly finding himself in this situation with both Paul and Marco, it’s a huge overwhelming thing that he was absolutely able to open his heart to.”

In other words, be prepared to cry. A lot.

“It’s odd that somehow you end up leaving somehow richer for the experience instead of being beaten down,” Dillahunt said. “I’m not sure how Travis pulled that off, but that’s why I’m not a director. You feel sort of galvanized and motivated in a way. Maybe angry. Certainly hurt. You feel probably how Paul and Rudy do.”

Loosely based on a true story, the original screenplay was written by George Arthur Bloom decades ago. Bloom knew a man named Rudy Marinello who lived in Brooklyn and sometimes took care of a mentally and physically disabled child whose mother was a drug addict. Bloom wrote a fictional story of adoption based on the relationship between the man and the boy that was almost made into a film several times. Marinello died in the ’80s.

Fine adapted Bloom’s script and changed the setting from New York City to Los Angeles and gave Rudy a strong man to love who would love him back in the face of formidable obstacles. Known recently for his Emmy-nominated role on The Good Wife, Cumming is at his best as Rudy. Alternately funny and passionate, he makes for a good drag queen, though it was his least favorite part of the job because “drag queens are supposed to be really glamorous and gorgeous. I think I look like a horse with a wig on.” Cumming also gets to show off his singing chops in the film’s highly emotional climax, which features his rendition of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.”

‘How long are we going to pretend that there haven’t been gay people from the beginning of time?’

“I still feel nervous singing in that way because you’re not just singing a song,” Cumming said. “You’re really contributing to the narrative. The last four minutes of the movie, there’s no dialogue. It’s a really lovely way to tell a story but it’s also quite daunting. It’s a triple hanky job.”

Both Cumming and Dillahunt credit Leyva’s joyous energy on set for helping them create the loving family dynamic at the center of the movie. Being around him, in fact, served as a “slap in the face,” Dillahunt said, because “he was a real reminder of what it’s supposed to be like.

“He wasn’t busy thinking about his next job, the size of his trailer or whatever a lot of actors get hung up on,” he added. “He was so excited to be here telling this particular story in this particular moment. It was a lot of fun to be around and to play with him. It was like play, you know?”

Cumming admitted feeling anxious working for the first time with an actor who has Down syndrome but now says that meeting Leyva and working with him is the “best thing out of the whole experience for me.” Leyva is a “lot cooler than Marco,” Dillahunt said. Levya likes to wear his glasses a particular way and is picky about his clothes and staying clean. He also loves cool hats and cool music.  Recently, when Cumming and Leyva were together at the Napa Film Festival promoting the movie, Leyva got drunk and Cumming spent part of the evening holding his hand.

“I had trepidation going into the film but it was all filmed in such a short time and he was absolutely enchanting and gorgeous,” Cumming said. “He sang me a song on the first day we met. He loves singing and he really wants to be in High School Musical 4. We had rehearsed a couple of scenes and at the end of the day, he said he wanted to sing me a song and he held my hand and sang this entire Leona Lewis song. It was really moving.”

Cumming and Dillahunt also became friends in the five weeks they worked together but have not seen each other as much because of their busy schedules working on TV shows that film on opposite coasts. They had never met before the movie was filmed two years ago, but working with Cumming was one of the film’s draws for Dillahunt.

“I really do love Garret,” Cumming said. “We did this film not knowing it would have this much impact, so it’s a really special thing to go through with someone. I think people love the fact that Garret’s in this big gay movie and all my gay friends are crazy about him. The fact that he’s just so lovely and comfortable and at ease with himself, I really respect him for that as well as everything else. Plus, he’s a good kisser.”

Paul was not Dillahunt’s first gay role. In 2001, he turned heads playing a gay character at three different times of his life on Showtime’s Leap Years. Dillahunt also spent nine months on stage in Angels in America playing a gay man with AIDS.

“It’s a big world and there are still people getting beaten up for what they feel is out of their control,” Dillahunt said. “It would be so dishonest and ungrateful of me to take any other position other than supportive. There have just been so many people in my life who happen to be gay that have been so influential in such a positive way to me. A kid would be lucky to be raised by the people I know—teachers, colleagues, friends, and family members. I think after this last election, people are just really tired of being told bullshit. How long are we going to pretend that there haven’t been gay people from the beginning of time or that they deserve any less respect or civil or human rights than anyone else?”

Any Day Now opens on Dec. 14 in limited release.