Adam Devine is just a boy, standing in front of audiences, asking them to love him.
Isn’t It Romantic stars Rebel Wilson as Natalie, a New York City architect who inexplicably finds herself stuck as the leading lady in an alternate PG-13 rom-com reality. Devine, 35, reunites with his Pitch Perfect co-star as Natalie’s best friend, Josh, who may also be her perfect match.
But as Devine tells NewNowNext, he’s been romancing gay admirers even before the homoerotic hijinks of Workaholics. In fact, he pretty much had us at “hello.”
Isn’t It Romantic can be enjoyed by both hopeless romantics and cynical rom-com haters. How do you identify?
I straddle that fence. Honestly, I was always pretty indifferent when it came to rom-coms, but I didn’t know that some of my favorite movies, like The Wedding Singer, are full-on rom-coms. As a 13-year-old boy, I guess I wasn’t thinking about romance at all. Preparing for this movie, I realized that most of my favorite comedies are actually romantic comedies.
It’s fun to see you singing and dancing again with Rebel Wilson, especially after your absence from Pitch Perfect 3.
Rebel and I love working together. This was actually our fourth time working together after the first two Pitch Perfect movies, because one of the first TV shows she did in America was Workaholics. It feels like she’s my work wife and I’m her work husband. We’re so comfortable with each other, we improv really well, so I hope people are excited to see us back together.
There’s a recurring theme in your movies where you must compete for attention against hunky heartthrobs—Liam Hemsworth in Isn’t It Romantic, Robbie Amell in When We First Met, Zac Efron in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Why does Hollywood do you dirty like that?
[Laughs] Look, I’m just glad I’m getting those roles because I’m definitely not getting the Liam Hemsworth roles, you know? I think it’s because I’m more relatable. Everybody has a buddy who’s like me—I hear that from people all the time—so I’m like someone you know and can hopefully root for.
For what it’s worth, I’d choose you every time, Adam.
Thanks, bud! I appreciate that. Believe me, I appreciate anybody who’d pick me over a Hemsworth.
Are you aware of your gay following?
Yeah, totally, and it’s very flattering to have that support. It’s funny because my first manager, TV producer Eddie October, is gay. After seeing me do a stand-up set at the Hollywood Improv Comedy Club when I was 21, he came up to me, like, “You’re going to be a star.” He was putting together this all-gay stand-up show that I couldn’t do because I’m a straight boy, but he wanted to make a tape of me doing stand-up, so we filmed my set at The Abbey in front of an all-gay audience. It was an awesome experience. Afterward, he was like, “You have no idea how many gay fans you’re going to have.” He called it.
RuPaul once called your Comedy Central series Workaholics “the gayest show I’ve ever seen in my life” and “gayer than Drag Race.” Was that a fair review?
It was the greatest compliment. I remember when RuPaul said that, because we all loved it. We were literally in the writers’ room high-fiving each other.
Working on episodes like “Gayborhood,” in which your clueless straight characters crash a Pride party and think they drunkenly had sex with each other, did you have LGBTQ viewers in mind?
Absolutely. With that episode in particular, we wanted to be the butt of the jokes. As straight white males, it’s easy to offend people and not even realize it, so we wanted to make sure that was coming from the best possible place. We felt like people really liked that episode and understood that we were only making fun of our idiotic characters.
Some of those gags could have been wildly offensive in the wrong hands.
Sure, but we just wanted to be funny. When you’re pushing any sort of comedic boundaries, some people are going to be offended. It’s better for clicks and likes nowadays if you’re offended by something, as opposed to just laughing and taking it for what it is. But the few times critics called us homophobic, it was straight critics being overly sensitive. The gay community has a great handle on comedy, and it’s cool that they’ve always been in our corner.
What does that homoerotic humor stem from?
You’re straight guys doing all this stuff that’s pretty gay—showering together after football practice, slapping each other in the dick—but you’re not secure enough in your own manhood to not nervously make jokes about it. It’s that insecurity, that eighth grade mentality, that’s so funny to me.
Your 2018 Netflix movie Game Over, Man!, which you also produced, had gay twists that weren’t essential to the plot. Why was it important to include that representation?
Well, we’d just never seen that in a movie before—henchmen who happened to be gay guys. Normally you don’t know a henchman’s backstory at all. We thought, well, gay people are everywhere, in all walks of life, why can’t there be two gay henchmen? And how funny would it be if I auto-erotic asphyxiated in front of them?
Blake Anderson’s character, Joel, also comes out to his buddies and becomes “the most powerful thing in the world: a pissed off gay dude.” What a great takeaway for a gay kid or bully who watches that.
I appreciate you saying that, because we came at that from a really good place, too. I also liked that when he finally comes out, his friends are like, “We know, dude. It’s fine.”
You famously did full-frontal nudity in Game Over, Man! When you meet someone, does it ever cross your mind that they’ve probably seen your penis?
I don’t think about it unless they’re like, “Hey, I saw Game Over, Man! and really, really liked it.” If they lean into it like that, I’m like, oh, this guy’s talking about my dick. I actually did stand-up at a college right after Game Over, Man! came out. After a few minutes, I felt like the audience was a little tight, so I stopped, looked out at all these, like, 19-year-old college kids, and went, “Oh, you guys are being weird because you just saw my dick in a movie.” The place erupted.
Would you like to play a gay character?
Yeah, I’m down to play anything, as long as the script is great and I think I could bring something to the character. I certainly would never pass on a role because it was gay.
Pitch me a gay-themed movie starring you.
It seems like almost every gay movie is about some struggle—the struggle of coming out, how hard it is, people not understanding. I totally get that, of course, but I want to see a movie about two gay guys where being gay is not the main issue in their lives. I want to see them on a completely different journey that has nothing to do with them being gay.
Your move, Hollywood.
Right? I know I’d watch that.
Isn’t It Romantic is now in theaters.