Billed by critics as one of the best films 2023 has to offer, Chrissy Judy is a witty, wonderful dramedy about the hurdles of maintaining a queer friendship importance of queer friendship (and drag) in the big apple. Written, directed by and starring Todd Flaherty, the film features bravura performances by not only multi-hyphenate Flaherty but, as his on screen co-dependent platonic partner, Chrissy, newcomer Wyatt Fenner.
What a movie. Was it hard baring your soul and story on screen like that?
Thank you so much! I won’t say it’s easy to access the feelings that Chrissy experiences thru out the film but by being honest with myself about the complications of what I believe is going on with Chrissy; recognizing a need for the space to grow and succeed in his own journey while deeply caring for a friend he’s aware is no longer the sort of influence that can support of that growth, I was able to go to the places necessary to tell my part of the story. It means so much to me that audiences engage with and appreciate the nuance of the circumstance because of my work in the film. It’s so difficult to accept when we need to make difficult changes in our life for the best and it’s been more difficult to actively take those steps. I’m proud of anyone willing to be brave enough to do so, and I think that’s why people appreciate Chrissy despite the circumstance Judy finds himself in as a result of Chrissy self reliance.
From the outset, what do you believe was Todd’s motivation for doing the movie?
I think Todd was interested in exploring the complexities of moving thru queer adulthood. Every character is grappling with their own version of growing up and as queer people I think we often experience a sort of delayed teenage-hood in our twenties, so it’s common for queer people specifically to reach their thirties and find that some difficult changes need to be made. The variety of characters he’s telling this story byway of show such a bouquet of the queer spectrum and I think all of them are beautifully relatable to queer and non queer audiences.
And did you have a goal you wanted the movie to achieve?
My goal was to honor the complications of this circumstance that Chrissy and Judy are in. There is no bad guy, but they both need and deserve to respect themselves enough to do what is right for them individually and I find the bravery Chrissy has to try to his best to achieve that really beautiful. It was important for me to allow people to see the love Chrissy has for Judy thru out their journey despite his needing to step away and knowing the difficulty that would face Judy as a result of taking the space that creates that uncomfortable distance. Change is painful and scary but allowing for and embracing change is what leads to one’s growth and it was important for me to help audiences recognize by the end of the film that nobody is alone in that difficult aspect of life- which is such a relief to acknowledge when you’re going thru it!
Was there anything you refused to do?
No, there wasn’t anything I refused to do.
How much did Todd shoot? Was there anything lost in the editing room of note?
Todd shot the entire script and every word of the screenplay he wrote is in the film audiences get to embrace now. Some people have asked how much of the film is improvised because his facility with language is so acute that there are conversations that feel so natural they could have been improvised, but every single word and idea was in his screenplay from the first day of shooting.
How has your life changed since the film has exploded on the festival circuit?
The journey has just begun! It’s been really fun to be recognized in various places around the world where we have screened the film in different festivals and it has even more exciting to be able to hear from people who have seen the film how much they appreciate and relate to it. I’ve worked on stage for years and every play I have done was able to be taken in by a specific number of people for a specific few months of the run, and that’s it- it’s so thrilling to continue to experience how with this film everyone everywhere forever is able to appreciate and engage with what we have created. I’m really proud and happy to continue to experience that engagement. It never gets old I don’t think it ever could. One thing that changed in my life is that in Melbourne I discovered I absolutely love vegemite on toast and it’s tricky to find that outside of Australia so I need to figure that out.
What’s best for you? Especially now that you’re getting raves?
One foot in front of the next! I’m excited for more people to see my work in the film and to have the opportunities to work with directors and writers I have long admired because of that exposure. I’m looking forward to telling more stories that allow audiences to have a laugh, take a deep breath and feel the relief of seeing themselves and their struggles from a different perspective byway of the characters I play. As always I’m pounding the pavement here in a New York City auditioning for the next job and it’s really nice to be invited into rooms I hadn’t been asked to come into before now. I will say it has been so fun to be in Los Angeles more for work over the last year and I’m looking forward to spending more time out West too when necessary. Poolside morning coffee in February? Count me in.
Chrissy Judy is now showing in select theaters and available on VOD/DVD on Tuesday April 4.