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‘Love, Simon’ star Nick Robinson talks teen LGBTQ representation

The new teen drama treads a path not often covered in mainstream film.

Nick Robinson stars as Simon in

Nick Robinson stars as Simon in "Love, Simon." Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox / Ben Rothstein

The significance of “Love, Simon” for the LGBTQ community doesn’t end with the current generation of teens. In many ways, it’s the first glimpse of authentic representation from a major motion picture that previous generations were hungry for.

The film follows Simon, a closeted teen dealing with someone blackmailing him to keep his secret.

As Simon, actor Nick Robinson’s voice is modern enough for all of those millennial colloquialisms and pop culture references but at the same time, his natural charisma on screen allows for older audiences to tap into the familiarity of being closeted while dealing with the complications that come with trying to carve out an identity as a teen.

“He really wanted to do the role justice. You could tell that he’s really trying to not overdo it or play to any stereotype, which was beautiful to see,” added co-star Alexandra Shipp. “Everyone knows someone like Simon.”

Actor Nick Robinson sat down with amNewYork to discuss how it felt to take on a role that bridges generations. The film opens on Friday.

We haven’t seen a major mainstream film about a young teen struggling to define who he is in the world who’s also LGBTQ. Do you hope this might start a wave of films for this generation?

Absolutely. I think representation is a really powerful concept and to see people and stories you really identify with on screen, is great. That’s not to say that “Love, Simon” is representative of all LGBTQ experiences, and the same with us as actors, so I think there’s a big window of opportunity to see other specific stories that people can relate to. If people respond to this, I think we’ll be seeing more films like this in the future.

Was it easy to identify with Simon?

Yes, it’s very easy to identify with Simon’s story and I think that was very intentional. It doesn’t feel like a niche story, it feels very broad and inclusive.

Do you hope having a fleshed out character like Simon will change the way LGBTQ characters are represented?

I hope that this is a step in the right direction because sexuality is spectrum. I think this generation is more aware of that than the prior. While it’s not representative of all LGBTQ stories, it’s “a” story and it counts for something.

Greg Berlanti, who started his career producing and writing for the groundbreaking “Dawson’s Creek,” has been such a significant voice in crafting authentic teen voices. How was your experience working with him?

He’s been a champion of this film from the very beginning. He’s a great voice and role model to the LGBTQ community. He’s had such an impact in that realm by telling stories that people can identify with. You don’t notice all the work he’s doing behind the scenes, and when you see it back, it’s impressive.

It’s easy to live in a bubble in New York and momentarily forget how eclectic it is and welcoming of people in general. How do you think the film may impact teens who don’t have safe spaces to voice who they are?

Sure, like you said, it’s easy to forget when you’re living in a major city on a coast that there are still places that are not as open and welcoming and accepting. There are certain theater chains who have said they don’t want to show this film. It’s still a conversation that needs to happen and there’s still room to improve.

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