'Stonewall' Star: "We Do Have Culture and Diversity in the Film"

Jonny Beauchamp - H 2015
Courtesy of Anthony Behar

Roland Emmerich's new film has courted controversy ever since the trailer debuted this summer, but Jonny Beauchamp says audiences will be pleasantly surprised when they see how diverse the finished film is.

Controversy is a good thing.

So says actor Jonny Beauchamp, one of the stars of Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with the 26-year-old recently in Toronto where he defended the Roadside Attractions release (due in theaters on Sept. 25) which caused a stir online after the trailer debuted on Aug. 4. A MoveOn petition followed, those who signed it pledging to boycott the film for whitewashing the contributions of a diverse roster of activists who had been involved in the historic 1969 riots in New York City.

Since then, the film has also fallen under fire by film critics who questioned the movie's recreation of the events leading up to the riots. But Beauchamp says all will be erased once audiences see the film. 

"It was a good thing because I’ve never heard so many people say the names Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, who are iconic, incomparable activists," says Beauchamp, who plays Ray aka Ramona, an androgynous street hustler in the film. "A lot of the things people were upset about were a little bit misinformed. For example, Marsha P. Johnson is in the movie. And I’m Puerto Rican from the Bronx, so we do have culture and diversity in the film. I hope that people do come out and support it because not only is it a movie about the Stonewall riots, but it’s also a call to arms about the issue of homeless youth."

How long have you been acting?
I’ve been acting since I was 11, but I’ve been able to actually support myself just in the last two years, which has been amazing. I owe all that to Roland. Roland picked me out of thousands of people. Everyone I know went out for this movie and I know a few actors who went out for my role. So the fact that he picked me is really kind of ... I’m a bit awestruck. I can’t thank him enough.

Do you remember where you were when you found out you got the role?
I absolutely remember where I was. I was coming out of an audition in New York and I was going to go see my friend for coffee. I was going to be like, "Oh, I just had this audition and it didn’t go so well." And I got the call in the elevator, and I kind of had a moment, and it was raining — it was sopping wet — and I was so happy. And my friend just said, 'You’re red. What just happened?' I was just like, 'I got it.' We jumped up and down like two high school kids. I’ll never forget that day ... Thursday. It was a Thursday.

What was filming like?
Oh, it was amazing. We filmed in Montreal. What’s also great about Roland is that he’s not just an amazing director, he’s an amazing casting director. He assembled the most amazing team. We’re a crew. We’re all still very close, like I’ve seen [Vladimir Alexis], who plays Cong. We met up in Berlin and in London. We’ve met up in New York and L.A. Caleb (Landry Jones) — we met up in L.A. Jeremy [Irvine] has been around. Ben [Sullivan] flew down from Vancouver and we spent the Fourth of July together. Alex Nachi just came down to L.A., and we’ve had like a couple weeks together. We’ve all stayed in touch, so really it’s had a huge impact on my life. My life is completely different — I’ve got a whole new circle a friends, a whole new world that I’m slowly learning how to navigate — and it’s been such a blessing.

Have you picked a follow-up project yet?
I’ve got a few things working. I just did a film called Black Wake — it’s an indie with actress Nana Gouvea, she’s amazing. She’s a beautiful actress from Brazil. And then I’m going to shoot another film in Cape Cod called Fog City, and it’s a little more horror-y, suspense-y, and that’s going to be really fun. There’s a few projects coming my way; we’re kind of in talks, so we’ll see how it goes.