Love, Simon is inspiring a lot of people—even the actors in the film.
Joey Pollari, who plays Lyle, a Waffle House employee and potential love interest for Simon (Nick Robinson) in the film, publicly came out during a recent interview with The Advocate.
“His experience was similar to mine,” said the actor, referring to Simon’s emotional journey in the movie.
“The only part that was difficult was me coming out to myself. And I think that is the most difficult coming-out,” he said.
“I think all my friends and family knew on some level. I think maybe two people were shocked,” Pollari said. He also adds how his mother knew and had been “waiting for a very, very long time.”
“My mom knew. She laid hints for me everywhere,” he recalled.
Love, Simon is Pollari’s second gay role. He started off in Disney Channel movies like Skyrunners and MTV’s The Inbetweeners, but it was his performance as a closeted gay teen on the second season of American Crime that proved to be his breakout role.
“A lot of the trouble was self-shame. I do believe a system of power, of patriarchy, of masculinity did impact me,” Pollari said in his Advocate interview.
“The greatest difficulty I found was that it didn’t match my idea of myself. It seemed incongruent with the future I imagined for myself, the identity I had struck up with others,” the actor explained. ”
The interplay between me and women, me and men, now suddenly seemed entirely different. That just didn’t seem fair or right.”
This isn’t the first time Pollari has brought up the idea of struggling with the idea of being gay and masculinity. In 2016 he spoke with Vanity Fair about his role on American Crime, and how he related to his character, Eric:
“That dynamic of trying to be a man, I think every [guy] feels that. Growing up and doing theater and acting was not seen as the most masculine thing. That struggle to be seen as a man, as an equal, is universal.”
Love, Simon hits theaters March 16.