Love, loss and welcoming a new outlook on life are themes explored through director Michael Showalter’s new film ‘Spoiler Alert’ starring Jim Parsons, Ben Aldridge, Sally Field and Bill Irwin. Based on Michael Ausiello’s best-selling memoir “Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies,” the story follows true events that transpired after Ausiello’s partner Kit gets diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Playing the role of his friend, Michael Ausiello, Parsons chats more about reading Ausiello’s book, being compelled by the material and seeing the adaptation through to the big screen.
I saw that both you and your husband (Todd Spiewak) played a large role in turning Michael’s book into a film. What was it about this story and what were those beginning conversations with him like?
Yes—well, the person who suggested doing the [adaptation] was my husband actually. It was his reaction to seeing me read the book. It hit me so hard that if you were around me, it was obvious I was having an emotional reaction to this… and he read it and felt the same way. [Todd] was the one who approached Ausiello first about it and said we’d be interested.
The conversations were fairly easy—and I give a lot of that credit to Ausiello himself who was not only open to the idea, but [who also] had such a beautiful sanity and emotional equanimity about being able to understand that it probably wouldn’t be a direct mirrored image of his life, and that it was a movie. That was really beneficial through this process. I’m sure you can imagine because it’s a deep and beautiful and joyous, but also painful story that he told. So, having him be that great to work with was important.
And were you always in mind to play Michael as well?
Yes, we optioned it with the idea. We were open to playing either role depending on who the other actor was going to be or how the script came out—but I always thought that I would like to play Michael. My intuition told me that was my role and I knew I’d be a better balance in that part and find somebody eventually like Ben [Aldridge] who played Kit.
What was it like playing Michael, who is your friend? Especially in a role that tells a story like this?
Michael made things easier as far as I didn’t feel too often that I needed to shield or protect or worry about him. His presence and the book he’d written obviously kept such a grounded nature about this. It just made doing it so easy in its own way because you knew it was a true story and there was the man who had told you this story— and there was no reason to hold back. You knew the depths of this, and it was really rewarding and a privilege to be able to do it.
What do you hope audiences take away from the film? Even with this being such a sad story—and I bawled my eyes out—I walked away feeling somewhat hopeful.
I’m so glad you say that because I feel the same way. I think the reason their story is so resonant with anybody, not just a gay couple and not just men or whatever, but with anybody is because it’s really a story about these two people who love each other going through this really tumultuous, tragic time… But then the new look at life and love of each other, of themselves, and to all the other people in their lives that it gives them.
I think that’s where this story is almost uplifting by the end of it. The tumultuous journey we watch these men go on lands them in a place of greater clarity and ownership of their lives. And certain fears have now dwindled away because they’ve seen a certain amount of truth and pain that has led them to that. At the end of the movie, you’re left with somebody who is going to take the next steps of his life as a fuller version of himself. And less afraid.
‘Spoiler Alert‘ opens in select theaters on Dec. 2 and nationwide Dec. 16.