Bros Stars Miss Lawrence And Ts Madison Didn't Expect The Movie To Be A Movement [Exclusive Interview]

Much fanfare has been made about the momentous nature of "Bros," the groundbreaking rom-com from Billy Eichner and Nick Stoller that acts as a love letter to the entire LGBTQIA+ community. Not only is it a rarity (a major studio romcom about two men falling in love), it also touts a cast primarily made up of LGBT+ actors. But for stars like Ts Madison and Miss Lawrence, making a hilarious movie came first, and making history was just an extra special bonus.

The film follows Eichner as Bobby Leiber, a cynical New York podcaster who falls for the relationship-phobic Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), who seems like his polar opposite in every way, except for the fact that they share a magical, natural chemistry. In between finding his footing in this budding romance, Bobby is also in the middle of opening a museum dedicated to the hidden history of the LGBTQ community. He's joined by folks like the soft-spoken yet powerful Angela (Ts Madison) and fearless board leader Wanda (Miss Lawrence). Though a museum board meeting might sound like a relatively calm setting, it ends up being the site of the most chaotic and energetic moments in the film, as the members butt heads and erupt into disagreements but somehow stay united in their shared goal.

Overall, the film speaks to the power of a community united by what they share in common, while still making time to celebrate their differences. Through all of that, it's a charming, swoon-worthy, laugh-out-loud experience. /Film had the pleasure of chatting with Madison and Lawrence ahead of "Bros" making its theatrical debut, and they had plenty to say about their journey bringing this story from page to the big screen.

(This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.)

How the TIFF premiere changed everything

A lot of the conversation around "Bros" has been how historic it is to bring this cast together. Did it feel that way when you were making it? Was that part of what drew you to it? Or was that something that came later?

Miss Lawrence: We knew, but for me, it didn't hit me until I went to....

Ts Madison: Toronto.

Lawrence: Until we went to Toronto, and we saw the overwhelmingly great response at the premiere. It is still hitting me like, "Wow." Our Rotten Tomatoes review was through the roof. I knew we were creating something very special, but it's just now hitting me that this is groundbreaking and it is historic.

Madison: Yeah, and to piggyback off what Ms. Lawrence said, when we were sitting next to each other, he's like, "Girl, you hear them falling out like that?"

Lawrence: Baby, nonstop.

Madison: I said, "Girl, they got the joke!"

Lawrence: They were, yes, they was falling out nonstop.

Madison: Yeah. It felt good in that moment. It feels good to know that once this is released on the 30th, that this is the same response. We watched it twice. We watched it twice, 2,000 people, 1,700 people, and every time that the movie was on, we got a standing ovation. It was crazy. I was like, "Oh God, this is real."

Was that the first time that you all saw the movie? In full, when you were all together?

Madison: In full? Yes.

Lawrence: Yeah, for me it was.

Madison: Listen, the only way that I wanted to grasp that type of viewing is with so many different other people, because you want to hear the response of the people. I would've been gagging if we'd been watching it and it would have just been silence in there. I'd have gotten up and had been walked out, girl. But it was so much crowd participation and so much emotion. And the sad scenes, they got it. The jokes, they got it. The meaning, they got it. And I was like, "Yeah... they got it."

Discovering their characters

I want to hear about both of your characters. What was the core of who Angela and Wanda are, and what was the moment where you were like, 'I figured them out'?

Lawrence: When I first got the script and understood who Wanda was, I found a few spots or a few things that I could connect with. Wanda is a leader. She's the head of the board. She is a very mildly spoken person. She is the calm of the force. Wanda is the one that keeps the board together and on task at all times.

Madison: For me, Angela was the strong black trans woman, but yet she was very soft-spoken. So for me, the character was totally different from TS Madison. And I think it challenged me as an actor to... what is it?

Lawrence: Pull back.

Madison: To pull back, because I'm so loud, alive, and in color.

Lawrence: And in color.

Madison: In color! And it was a challenge, but my presence in the movie and my facial expressions and the things that I said ... it fell right into places that it needed to fall in for the movie.

Was it a collaborative process? Were there conversations with Billy and with Nick about who they are? Or was that something that you found in the filming?

Lawrence: I think they knew exactly who they wanted the characters to be. They did give us some leeway and a little freedom to explore with the delivery of the characters, but they knew what they wanted the characters to be and what their purpose was.

I've heard that there was a lot of improv in those boardroom meeting scenes.

Lawrence: Yeah, there were some. I think the flow of it was, we got the base of it down first, as it was written, and then Billy and Nick will say, "Okay, now go for it!"

Madison: Yeah.

Lawrence: "Let me hear what y'all got to throw out there." But what makes that easy is when we all understood and got the tone of who our characters were and why our characters were there. So it made for an easy improv conversation amongst the board.

Madison: Well, I would've loved to really not be so reserved in the film. But once again, I do feel that the way that the character was portrayed in the movie, it did what it was supposed to do for the parts that it needed to be, because TS Madison shouldn't always be loud and in color. You should be able to display your power in the way that Angela did it there in the movie, sitting on the board and bringing your ideas to the board.

'That was the portrayal of the way that our community should be.'

I thought it was a really beautiful commentary on community, the way that those scenes have everybody snapping at each other and bickering, but it's all coming from a place of love.

Madison: Yes, and that's the way our community should be. That was the portrayal of the way that our community should be. We should have different ideas and opinions and snap at each other, but from a place of love.

Lawrence: From a place of love.

If this wonderful museum was real and you were going to add an exhibit, do you know what you would add?

Lawrence: I would love to add William Dorsey Swann, who was a drag queen slave. A lot of people don't know about him or know his story. I don't know his full story. I do know that he was a drag queen and that he was a slave. I've seen pictures, there are pictures out there if you Google him, William Dorsey Swann. Whoever wrote the things that they wrote about him, would call him a drag queen. I doubt that, back then, they knew the exact title... But I would love to see him get a moment in a history museum.

Madison: Every time Lawrence speaks about him, it makes me want to know more. So I definitely would co-sign that with you. I'd push the pin on the budget.

Lawrence: Thank you, sister. Cause my sister got plenty of budget.

Watching the movie, I was just so sad that I couldn't visit this museum, because that trauma coaster, I mean, it feels like we all need that.

Lawrence: Oh, I know, but listen, we done planted the seed baby. It's going to show up. It's going to show up. The seed has been planted. Now it's up for the people that watch it to water the seed.

Madison: Yes.

Lawrence: And then it'll harvest in its own time.

'I got the call to read for it right before the pandemic.'

Are either of you big rom-com people? Are you big into romantic comedies? Was that part of the pull for you?

Lawrence: Yeah, I have a few rom-coms that I love. "Bridesmaids" being one, "The Hangover" being another.

Madison: Most definitely. I've been saying "Pretty Woman." Because it's a story after my own heart. It's my own lived experience, except that I didn't ride away on the white horse. The white horse just rode away on its own. I'd like to see the story where I get to mount the horse and ride it away into the sunset.

How did you each come to your roles? What attracted you to Bros?

Madison: Well, the role came out of the blue for me. I actually read for everybody in the boardroom part, except for Jim's part, which is Robert. They were trying to figure out where to put me. And I ended up with Angela, which — I love my character, but it happened right before the pandemic really struck everything down. So we thought that the project was done. We thought that it was scrapped. Cause I had my manager email and say, "Hey, did she do okay in the audition?" It's like, "Oh, well, you know, the producers haven't got back."

I was like, "Oh girl, I ain't getting the part." But then when everything started rolling back and my schedule started picking up, then I got the call, "Hey, you remember that thing? It's time." I was like, "Oh, wait a minute. I got the part?"

Lawrence: Yeah, I think our stories mirror each other in that way. It happened. I got the call to read for it right before the pandemic and didn't hear anything else about it. Then boom, here we go.

'I didn't know that this movie was going to be a movement.'

Were you already aware at that point that it was a primarily LGBTQ+ cast, or is that something that you learned later?

Lawrence: At that time when I read, I did not know. I had no idea. I didn't know the severity of how powerful this movie would be. I didn't know that this movie was going to be a movement.

Madison: Right. We just were working. We just wanted to work, especially after the pandemic.

Lawrence: I was just happy to audition for something. I was happy to get a callback.

Madison: We didn't know how big this was going to be for the LGBTQIA community. We just was like, "Okay, we got work." We didn't even know, she and I didn't even know that we were on the movie together. We live in Atlanta together. We didn't find out that we were on the movie together until we did the table read on the Zoom call and our character's name was under on the Zoom. Then when Wanda came on the screen, I was like "Ahhh, girl, you in this too?!" I was like, "Ooh, you could keep a secret girl."

So that was exciting for me. I felt good. Cause I was nervous at first. Because this is a Universal Picture, and I'm not Meryl Streep or Angelina Jolie. I'm TS Madison, honey. So I'm like, well, girl, I got to go ahead and learn these lines now, child. But then when I saw my sister here, I was like, "Oh, I'm with a seasoned girl who's going to help me." And that's what happened.

How did it feel once the whole cast was together and was that community aspect there too?

Lawrence: It just made sense. You know. It just literally made sense. It felt like when we got there, we didn't have to get to know each other. It was this spirit of we already knew each other.

Madison: We came in as strangers, but we left as family.

"Bros" makes its theatrical debut on September 30, 2022.