By Tom Tietjen
His stage name is Queer Niro but you can call him Niro. “Being called ‘Queer’, especially by straight people, because they think it’s my first name, is absolutely not the vibe,” he laughs. Niro grew up outside of Atlanta in Roswell, Georgia. As a teen, he was athletic, made average grades, was relatively popular as he could mold to any social group, and was completely numb to his sexuality. In twelfth grade, he randomly tried out for the school play where he experienced butterflies that he hadn’t felt before. His freshman year of college, he signed up for Acting 101 and discovered the first real love of his life. This month he stars in the new film, Bad Together, about two young gay men who are desperate to connect with one another as best friends but have different ways of achieving the bond. They each offer their own version of what they deem to be true friendship and ultimately create a relationship that is not healthy for either one of them.
Tom Tietien:We’re big fans of Cameron, the character you play in Bad Together!
QN: Cameron is an intense lover and friend. Once he commits to you, he goes all in. That intensity can be too much sometimes for people, but it is hard to say no to him because he is so fun and does come from a loving place.
TT: Sounds like a good guy to have in one’s corner.
QN: Cameron would be a nice friend to have, maybe go out to bars with, grab dinner with, but I wouldn’t choose him as a best friend. He’s a bit too much to handle and not completely in tune with how he affects others feelings.
TT: Is he good for Robbie, played by the adorable Andrés Erickson?
QN: He is good for him because Robbie is reserved and Cameron breaks him out of his shell. They say opposites attract; that is very much the case here. It is good to have someone that challenges you to push through your insecurities and shyness. On the other hand, he can sometimes be a bit absent minded of Robbie’s feelings.
TT: Is Robbie really so innocent?
QN: I would say no. During parts of the film, we see his pettiness come out. Also, Robbie can be controlling and doesn’t really accept Cameron for who he is. TT: How did you land the role in Bad Together? QN: I have known Jono (the film’s the writer and director) for years and have worked together on several projects. He came to me with the part and I was excited about it because I knew I would be able to infuse so many of my own quirks, loudness, silliness, and emotional intensity into the role.
TT: Have you experienced a complicated friendship like the one we see between Robbie and Cameron? QN: I have not. I have had best friends before, but nothing as intense as the one in Bad Together. TT:What can we learn from the film? QN: For two people to have a friendship like Robbie and Cameron is and will forever be tricky. Once the friendship honeymoon phase is over and you learn how someone truly is as a person; you have to decide if they are a good fit for you or a bad one. The important thing is to make a decision if you want to stay with them. If you decide against it, you need to move on. No matter how hard it is.
TT: It sounds similar to a romantic relationship.
QN: Someone once said to me that a break up with a friend is worse than a break up with a lover. Now I haven't experienced this friendship type of break up so I might be ignorant saying this, but there is no way a friendship breakup is harder than a relationship breakup! It took me more than a year to get over one of my exes.
TT: Sex complicates matters.
QN: Exactly. In a relationship, you are the most intimate you can be. You have been skin-to-skin with that person. You have literally done one of the most intimate things there is: sex, in the many forms that it can be. It's hard to wrap my head around the concept of a friendship being harder to get over.
TT: Have you met the love of your life?
QN: Yes, for sure! Acting is my love. Forever and always. Even if it's the most toxic relationship I’ve ever been in.
TT: Can you relate with Cameron’s search for purpose in life?
QN: Not really. I know I am an actor and I will do it for as long as it takes until I make it big. Knowing the goal helps; even though it is such a hard journey.
TT: What do you do for fun?
QN: I play in an amazing sports league called Stonewall Sports. It’s a fully queer league. They are organized and inclusive. On occasion, I love going out to clubs and bars and drinking. I can be very extroverted when I'm out partying or at house get-togethers. I love movies and tv shows too. Wine night and a movie with a buddy is the best.
TT: Which celeb would you welcome sliding into your DMs?
QN: It switches all the time, but right now I want to do dirty things to Jonathan Bailey. He’s sexy, charismatic, and so talented! Nyle DiMarco, too.
TT: What famous person, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with?
QN: Bradley Cooper! I love that man. He seems so kind and I’m sure he is a good conversationalist. The movie Limitless was a big inspiration for me wanting to be an actor. He would be a dream to work with or be directed by. He is so good and has such a passion to be great. The span of his career and how much he has accomplished is amazing.
TT: What’s left to do on your life’s bucket list?
QN: (laughing) I have a bucket list of sexual things I want to do, but I'm not telling anybody what they are!
Bad Together releases to TVOD rental platforms including Apple, Amazon, and Google on December 5.