The young stars of the upcoming film ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ share how it all started

By Amina Sergazina, Staff Reporter

Courtesy of Amazon Studios

There are many stories told about coming out, but few are about acceptance of someone beyond sexuality. “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” is one of these rare stories.

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” is a movie coming to AmazonPrime Sept. 17 about a 16-year-old openly gay boy named Jamie from a small town in England who wants to become a drag queen. The movie is based on the real-life story of Jamie Campbell and their road to becoming a young drag queen. It was adapted previously as a stage musical and a documentary, “Jamie: Drag Queen at 16.”

“Unlike theatre, where there’s always tomorrow, there’s never tomorrow in filming. It has got to be there—finished, over and done with, and you’re always against that amazing ticking clock that is suddenly going in one direction,” said director Jonathan Butterell.

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” is personal to Butterell both physically and spiritually. The movie is filmed in Sheffield, England, his hometown, and through the character Hugo, a former famous drag queen played by Richard Grant, Butterell communicates the story of his generation that experienced Section 28, a law in Britain from 1988 until 2003 that banned “promoting” homosexuality, which was passed at the same time many LGBTQ+ community members were dying from HIV.

“I wanted to make sure that that story was told and communicated to this generation,” Butterell said. “And so that was an opportunity to use the film to kind of tell that story as well.”

The movie was a first-time experience for Butterell as a movie director and a first acting job for both actors, Max Harwood and Lauren Patel. Patel plays Pretty, a smart girl who is Jamie’s best friend.

Butterell has worked on Broadway since 1995 and said when he saw Harwood’s audition video out of thousands for the role of Jamie, he knew Harwood was magical.

“[The movie] is unique in the sense that it’s not a coming-out story, that Jamie is already gay,” Harwood said. “There’s no trauma about that, and he is not a victim of his queerness in that sense. He is very firm in his sexuality and can stand up to the bullies. [At] no point do truly we make him the victim. He’s the hero of his own story with all of its flaws, with all of his journey to discovery.”

Harwood made the decision to leave college after two years of studying dance and musical theatre once he got the opportunity to star in the movie.

“I’m similar to Jamie in the sense that my head was always out of the classroom,” Harwood said. “I’m quite a creative person. I write as well as act, and I write music, and I’m writing screenplays. That’s something that I want to continue to in my career.”

Harwood also noted how his story is different from Campbell’s, saying “this is a kid who’s 16. When I was at school, when I was 16, I wasn’t out. I wasn’t. I was anything but gay. I was like, no. I think he’s incredibly brave … I am brave now, but was I at 16? Probably not.”

At the same time as Patel was auditioning for the “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” movie, she said she was rejected from all of the drama schools in London and thought she would never be able to be an actress, until 20 days later when she received a callback.

“I got this job when I was 17, and I’m 20 now, and I feel like I’ve really grown up with the film and with Pretty and with Jamie,” Patel said. “And being able to promote this after such an odd time, it’s a really lovely thing, [along with] the community aspect of it. We all kind of leaned on each other, and it was all very new and scary, as Jamie is trying to navigate that also.”