Up Close and Personal
with Peggy Thompson
Writer & Producer of
BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE
by Carlin Langley
"What can be 'Better Than Chocolate'?" you chocoholics
might ask! Could SEX really be "Better Than Chocolate"?
Or is "Love" "Better Than Chocolate"? That's just one of
the plots involved in weaving the delectable storyline that is
played out masterfully in the hit gay comedy movie, "Better Than Chocolate" premiering at the
SLILAG Film Festival and opening for a full engagement September 17th at the Tivoli Theater
on the Loop in U. City. "It took 4 years to write it and 21 days to film it in Vancouver, Canada,
which is where I'm from and where the film takes place." said writer/producer Peggy Thompson
in our interview. So is "Better Than Chocolate" autobiographical and Peggy's own story? Is she
a lesbian? "Oh yes, I am! It is to a certain extent. Not literally, and not hugely, but it's in there. I
always believe in putting in the personal touch in independent films, so I certainly always try to
tie in more kinda real places. Even in such a large comedy such as it is. This is not a realistic
film. It is a lot of music and fun included." I then asked her, "So is it safe to assume that you've
never stood nude in a bookstore window?" And she said, laughing, "I think you can safely make
that assumption, and I'm not about to start!"
She continued, "The bookstores are very important though, because they were my first
connection to my life. Like as a 12 or 15 year old, I'd go to the library and leave with as much
stuff as you could find, and it's my experience that they're a real cultural center in the
community and a great place to hangout and be a part of." Were any of the cast really lesbians?
"Well, Anne Marie McDonald is a very well known writer in this country, and an actor, and very
"Out". So, there you go." I then asked, "So she's the only one?" and she replied, "Well, she's the
one we feel comfortable talking about, besides me!"
I asked if there were any problems filming the movie? "There was an incredibly great group of
people. Making a feature in 21 days is always a challenge. It was a gallop from beginning to end.
We had a very young crew, and our director is a very experienced director. She's a very well
known director in Canada, and we couldn't have done this without her at the helm, leading us
forward. The young crew, was a very dedicated crew, a neat crew, alot of them from the
community. But it worked out very well. It is a challenge to shoot a feature film in 21 days." I
then told her, "I read in the promotional material where the two lead actresses said it was very
interesting getting naked in front of 40 people and then making love." "Well, that may have been
a little exaggerated. It was a closed set, so they didn't have to get nude in front of 40 people,
although it may have felt like it to them! But we think they're brilliant! They took the material,
and advice from Anne Marie, and they went for it! I think they did a wonderful job. We wanted
a film that was sexy. It is! That was a huge part, to be sexy and funny. For example, the body
painting is great! It's a great thing for anyone to do on a first date, I think!"
I asked Peggy, "What was your favorite portion of the movie?" "I guess the musical numbers I'd
have to say, like the day glow scene and the drag queen song. That may seem like a strange
thing for the writer to say, but the songs and music are so important. Those are the favorite parts
that I look forward to seeing." I asked her then, if she had a favorite character? "Well, I think
Peter Outerbridge steals the movie, I'd have to say as Judy. We try to keep all the characters like
your children, you can't have favorites! You're not allowed to, but I believe Peter brings
something really special to the part he plays as Judy, in the film." I then asked, "Is Peter gay?"
She said, "No, he isn't! In fact, he's not, and he's never been in drag before. He's known in this
country as an actor who can go anywhere, mentally and emotionally, for a part. He's amazing
and wonderful to work with. We had never met him, but knew his work. He's in a film about
necrophilia, and he's wonderful in it. And, he flew up from LA where he was working as a
comedian. So we said, 'Here's your drag, and your wig', and we filmed his film test, and just
cast him there and then."
In response to my question about the meaning or morale of the movie, Peggy replied, "Yes, the
film is a date movie, so the idea is to go and have fun. But the theme of the film is about
censorship. Self censorship and overt censorship, and maybe, the links between the two.
Everybody kind of censors themselves, and the books in the bookstore are censored, and it just
kind of goes on, until it can't be allowed to go on any more. So everything just kind of comes to
this big blow up. So that's the theme, to go past it, and quit censoring ourselves, and move on
past it. To work things out and go forward."
"Better than Chocolate" is a really FUN film, which I highly recommend not only for lesbians,
but even for guys, because basically, it celebrates same-sex love, and love wins out in the end.
In Germany, it's been very well received, and in fact, at one screening, the audience clapped for
1/2 hour at the end of the show. Some people came back and saw it 4 and 5 times. I'm not
surprised. It's very good!
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