Van Hansis talks about his Out on Film ‘David Atlanta Night’ feature Kiss Me, Kill Me, new projects on kickstarter, and making television history with daytime’s first gay kiss.
By Elijah Sarkesian
Many actors work for years and years in hopes of a breakout moment. For Van Hansis – star of the new film Kiss Me, Kill Me, playing as part of Out on Film – his breakout moment came very early. More specifically, it came alongside his first television role, as Luke Snyder on As the World Turns, and as part of a watershed moment in LGBT culture.
While Hansis wasn’t the first actor to play the role, he’s by far the most recognized. That’s partially due to the history-making moment in 2007 when Luke kissed his boyfriend, Noah. It was the first kiss between two gay men on daytime television, and while it’s something he recognizes now, Hansis wasn’t fully aware of the scene’s impact on pop culture at the time.
“It’s weird, because at the time I didn’t realize the history being made,” Hansis says. “I would just go to work every day. I wasn’t aware of how huge of a moment it was.”
Gays of our lives
These days, Hansis is much more familiar with the impact of the gay characters he plays. That includes the dark comedy Kiss Me, Kill Me, where he plays the lead role of Dusty. The film revolves around Dusty and some mysterious events involving his boyfriend.
“I would call Kiss Me, Kill Me ‘West Hollywood noir,’ where it kind of has the same look and feel of old classic Hollywood noir films, but it has a West Hollywood feel,” he says. “There’s this big party where Dusty gets into a pretty heated argument with his boyfriend. Then my boyfriend ends up dead, and I have no recollection of how my boyfriend died.”
The boyfriend in question is played by another actor with a connection to gay audiences. Many fans will remember Gale Harold as Brian Kinney on Queer as Folk. Now Kiss Me, Kill Me marks Harold’s first gay role since that show ended. Hansis was pleased to share the screen with Harold, saying that “Gale is a fantastic actor.”
This isn’t Hansis’ first film role, but the Out on Film feature is one project where the actor learned to apply the skills learned during his stint on As the World Turns, which earned him three Daytime Emmy Award nominations.
“Working on a soap, you move so quickly. It’s insane, how many pages you do in a day,” Hansis says. “Just the preparation of doing so much, so quickly, is really beneficial for all sorts of acting, but especially on films, where you’re working really quickly and you’ve got a lot to do. It can only help that you have that training from soaps.”
Kickstarting a career
Hansis became attached to the film through a different project – a web series called EastSiders.
“It’s a great series about a gay couple that was created by Kit Williamson, who was a co-producer on this film. He recommended me to David Michael Barrett, who’s our writer, and Casper Andreas, our director. We talked about it, and the next week they offered me the film.”
While Kiss Me, Kill Me begins making its way through the festival circuit, EastSiders recently premiered its second season on Vimeo On Demand. If that wasn’t enough to keep Hansis busy, Ms. Guidance is a new web series that Hansis co-created, and will also serve as a cast member.
“It’s about an actress who has to go back to the school she attended and become a guidance counselor,” Hansis says. “It’s a funny, dark comedy about expectations and reality.”
Besides the actor himself, something that all three of Hansis’ projects share in common is fundraising through Kickstarter. It’s a process that Hansis fully endorses.
“I think Kickstarter is an absolutely wonderful option for filmmakers,” he says. “It allows filmmakers to tell the story they want to tell. It’s an exciting way to get involved.”
Now, he’s meeting the fans who’ve helped fund his projects face to face. When the film plays at Out on Film, Hansis will be one of several cast and crew members in attendance, including his director and Out on Film alum Casper Andreas.
And while he may not be a Georgia native, it turns out his partner hails from Marietta, so Van has some familiarity with the area. He looks forward to using this particular trip into town to explore Atlanta itself.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the Greater Atlanta area, but really, I haven’t been in Atlanta, the city proper that much. But I’ve been all around the area,” Hansis says. “I’m excited about being able to actually see more of the city.”
Part of his first official intown tour will include the “Kiss Me” afterparty with David Atlanta at Blake’s after the screening.
Van Hansis appears at the screening of Kiss Me, Kill Me as part of Out on Film’s ‘David Atlanta Night’ on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 9:15 p.m., at Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Dr. NE. Out on Film’s afterparty with Hansis, director Casper Andreas, other members of the production, and David Atlanta takes place immediately following the movie at Blake’s on the Park.