Watch: Inside SXSW Breakout Hit 'Down Low' with Stars Lukas Gage, Zachary Quinto

by Matthew Creith

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday March 18, 2023
Originally published on March 15, 2023

"Down Low" is the feature film directorial debut from Rightor Doyle, the creator and director of Netflix's "Bonding." The deranged movie is the brainchild of writers Phoebe Fisher and Lukas Gage, the latter of which stars as a masseuse named Cameron, who becomes a sherpa into the modern gay sex scene for the inhibited Gary (Zachary Quinto). "Down Low" is a dark comedy that goes south quickly once Gary asks Cameron to give him a happy ending. The lives of those closest to Gary are forever affected by this one act, and mayhem explodes onto the screen.

"Down Low" premiered at the South by Southwest Film & TV Festival on March 11, 2023. With an original score by composer Adam Crystal and a cast that includes Judith Light, Simon Rex, Sebastian Arroyo, and Audra McDonald, the film is a fast-paced and witty jolt into queerdom.

I caught up with some of those in attendance for the premiere on the red carpet:

Rightor Doyle

Rightor Doyle
Rightor Doyle  (Source: Getty Images)

EDGE: I loved "Bonding." How does your experience working in television differ from working in film?

Rightor Doyle: Maybe I'm honest, but "Bonding" was shorter form, and we shot it like a movie, so ultimately, they ended up being pretty similar. I would say that TV involves a lot of thinking and a lot more time. Film is very very quick.

EDGE: What was the shoot like?

Rightor Doyle: : We did it all in technically 21 days. But it was wild. Hurricanes every other week hit our production, so we were always struggling trying to find new ways of shooting things, shooting things inside instead of outside. Shooting things in the day and not at night. But it was nice.

EDGE: You've acted for a long time. What was the transition like being behind the camera, and how do you like it?

Rightor Doyle: Well, I like it because you can gain and lose weight as much as you want.

EDGE: Is there anything that you would love for audiences to come away with after watching "Down Low?"

Rightor Doyle: More questions than answers. I think, ultimately, the movie is not moralizing. But it's asking you questions about the way that we live our lives. And that maybe is selfishness a good word or a bad word, and how do we live truly? So I hope that they talk about it very much.

Zachary Quinto

Zachary Quinto
Zachary Quinto  (Source: IMDb)

EDGE: You've done a lot of drama like "Margin Call" and "American Horror Story." What is it like being in a comedy like "Down Low?"

Zachary Quinto: I've always enjoyed the opportunity to do comedy when I've had it, and this is just about the most unhinged and outrageous comedy that I've ever experienced. So I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

EDGE: I'm very excited to see it. What drew you to "Down Low"? Was it just the insanity of the script?

Zachary Quinto: Yeah, I think how unexpected it was. And how unapologetic it was and how far it pushed the limit to me. And then, at the same time, it has this undercurrent of heart and accessibility and universality that I think transcends the nature of the film and the actual narrative of the film, and that was something that I really appreciated. I thought it was really surprising. And I love this script. And I've known Rightor, the director, for years, and I've known Lukas, as well. So it was great to be able to work with people that I've enjoyed and appreciated.

EDGE: I am a gay man who came out in my 30s. I know you did the same publicly. How has the transition been from more mainstream stuff to something like "Down Low" that has an appeal to the LGBTQ community?

Zachary Quinto: I've done a lot of stuff. I think that is supportive of our own narratives. I think it's important to sort of tell all the stories that we can, so I feel grateful to be a part of something that holds the mirror up to our own experience in a way that is pretty unflinching and a little bit insane. But also, hopefully, really fun and engaging.

EDGE: Is it refreshing to do something where you get to play somebody exploring their sexuality in a way?

Zachary Quinto: I mean, the character I play actually is someone who's incredibly repressed, and he's lived most of his life denying this aspect of his authentic self. And so I think for me, it was really wonderful to play a character's awakening up to his own truth, and having this kind of expansion of identity that I think even though it's contextualized, in this, you know, madcap, I just think it's humorous context. There is something underneath it that I think is meaningful, so I was happy to be able to.

EDGE: Well, as far as the gay community is concerned, thank you for playing Gary.

Zachary Quinto: Thank you.

Sebastian Arroyo

Sebastian Arroyo
Sebastian Arroyo  (Source: IMDb)

EDGE: It's nice to meet you. So this is your first movie. How do you feel? Are you nervous about the audience finally getting to see your work on the big screen today?

Sebastian Arroyo: Nervous but really excited.

EDGE: You made the jump from "Law & Order: Organized Crime" very recently to working with Zachary Quinto and Rightor Doyle. How has the experience been so far?

Sebastian Arroyo: It actually happened in different orders. My first experience on film was this movie. So I just loved how this role specifically allowed me to do many different things. Let's just say I also got to meditate through the film in a resting situation. So that allowed me to also just take a step back and observe Zachary and Lukas at work and get accustomed to concepts etc. So it was the perfect project to kind of get introduced to the industry.

EDGE: "Down Low" is a comedy, so were there any pranks you all pulled on one another, any fun things you got into during filming?

Sebastian Arroyo: There were. It was filmed in a house in Oyster Bay on Long Island, and there was access to the beach. So just during lunch breaks, and all of that stuff. Got to relax. So that was great just being out in nature.

Lukas Gage

Lukas Gage
Lukas Gage  (Source: IMDb)

EDGE: Your first script that's been made into a movie. How does that feel in this moment just before the premiere?

Lukas Gage: Oh my god, I'm so nervous right now. But I'm so ex/ited, and I think just being able to get these amazing actors that I looked up to say words that I wrote on my couch is surreal, and getting to go toe to toe with them and act in scenes and try to carry my own with these legends is like the best feeling ever. I'm so excited. I'm just happy that the movie got made. It's so hard to get anything made right now.

EDGE: After "White Lotus," "You," and everything you've been busy doing lately, is it nice to have completed a 90-minute comedy?

Lukas Gage: I think it's cool. I've done a little bit of comedy here and there, but I love comedy. I love working on it. I love improv, and I love trying to make the other actors and the director laugh. Being able to show a different side of myself was so fun. I've been doing like a lot of supporting and little character things in big shows, but never really having something that was a leading thing and a full clear arc. I feel like everyone's saying, "You're in that one show with 10 lines," but now here is something that I have a full-fledged character and can show my comedic skills and hopefully be able to hold my own against these amazing actors, as well.

EDGE: Congratulations, I'm excited to see the film today.

Lukas Gage: Thank you. Thanks, Matthew.