Luke Hutchie, creator and lead actor of OUTtv’s EZRA, gives us an insider’s look at the Canadian series, talking about what inspired the show, the importance of LGBTQ+ representation, on-set hilarity, and more!
EZRA is a vampire horror-comedy series that has taken Canada by storm! Created by and starring Luke Hutchie alongside Daniella Dela Peña, Danny Vo, Veronika Slowikowska, Kara Duncan, Chelsea Clark, Matthew Finlan, and featuring Canada’s Drag Race winner Priyanka, EZRA was released on OUTtv on October 1st with a ten-episode run to amazing reception by audiences and critics alike.
Hilarious with blood, romance, and LGBTQ+ representation, this show has everything. To help better introduce the show to American audiences, Luke Hutchie spoke with Daryn Snijdewind to discuss what it’s about and what it was like to create and star as the titular vampire.
I loved the show and I’m so excited for people to watch it! To start off, why don’t you give our readers a quick run-down on what EZRA is about?
LH: EZRA is about a vampire named Ezra who decides to flee his vampiric home, as he feels sort of restrained, he doesn’t feel like he can find fulfillment there, and decides to enter the modern human world because he views reality television as his dream. So he merges over to the human world to kind of discover who he is as a vampire and find fulfillment where he can’t find it at home. He’s also a vampire who’s scared to come out as a vampire, as a short-form way of saying it.
What was the biggest challenge and biggest reward of creating and starring in your own show?
LH: The biggest challenge was everything! The way I would never recommend doing this to anyone is so high! I think that the biggest takeaway with all the obstacles and challenges aside, especially for the demographic of the show, I think sometimes queer people are just a coming-out story or the best friend. They don’t ever get to just be a person who has problems, and I think with EZRA we just wanted to focus on creating a storyline that had nothing to do with sexuality. Like Ezra could be a man, he could be a woman, he could be anyone; he could be gay, straight, bisexual, trans–it wouldn’t change the storyline. The storyline would not be affected in any capacity if that was changed. And I felt like it was just really important to have a show that just happened to have queer people at the focus. And obviously, you haven’t seen it yet, but there’s more characters in the show that are gay that you just don’t know are gay yet. So it was really great to create a world where everybody was accepted for who they are and hated for what they did. Like it didn’t matter what they were, it was what you did that caused the problems! And I think that was just the biggest reward because I feel like now–it’s not a lot, because obviously, I’m not, like, Marilyn Monroe–I’ve been getting a lot of feedback and responses online and people are just like, “You know, I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s nice to have a mainstream show like this that has notable talent on it that doesn’t pigeon-hole what being queer is.” So that’s the reward.
Vampire content is everywhere, from Twilight to Buffy, and yet I haven’t seen any vampire media quite like EZRA. What inspired you to create the show?
LH: I mean Jennifer’s Body is like the greatest movie of all time! Um, I don’t know, I love the occult, I just like scary stuff, but I love when scary stuff is stupid. Like The Addams Family, Scream Queens, American Horror Story, Ratched on Netflix–those really dumb things that still live in horror, I find that it’s such a perfect combination. That’s the other thing, I don’t really view EZRA as “a vampire show,” but I don’t view it as a comedy. It’s not just funny, it’s not actually scary, but if you’re trying to watch vampires be bats this is not the show. It sits in this really strange hybrid, it’s like The Addams Family meets Jennifer’s Body is how I originally described the show. It sits in this really strange reality that only these characters understand. I don’t know, I was just like, “Why is there never a gay supernatural character?”
EZRA is on OUTtv and is rooted in LGBTQ+ culture. How important was it to you to bring this fresh take on this well-established genre? To have that gay supernatural creature?
LH: On one hand, I’m like, “Oh my god, this is so slay.” On the other hand, I think when me and Chelsea [Clark], Veronika [Slowikowska], and Max [Litzgus] were sitting there and creating the show and writing it, I think our biggest thing was… to just address it being a gay show if that makes sense? It was setting the norm of, “This is a real friend group.” The ensemble cast of the show, these are friends that do exist and it’s everyone of every race, ethnicity, gender, and all of these different things and sexualities. And I think the biggest thing for us was creating a character that was not a caricature of what a gay vampire is. It’s just this guy, who’s Ezra, who’s a vampire, who has issues, and also happens to love boys. And that’s honestly what we did, and I think we really hit the nail on the head where Ezra… makes fun of the stereotypes, almost. Like especially, within the show, in that scene in episode two, the cafe scene.
DS: Yeah, that was really funny!
LH: And even with Amber’s character, something else that we did too… that character is the homophobic, straight-jock character as a woman. Like the football player who hates on gay people because he’s gay, and you’ll find this out in episode eight… We really wanted to take these stereotypes and completely reverse them, and completely break all of the concepts of what these cliches are, and do them in a new way that hasn’t been done before.
What was it like collaborating with OUTtv on this project?
LH: It was great, I was so glad! In Canada, they’re the people who run Drag Race and their whole franchise, and growing up watching Drag Race on that channel, like classic television… it was so surreal to be a teenager and watching that network, and now there’s another teenager watching EZRA on the same network. It was a very 360 moment of like, “…Wow!” for me. They were great, they got the script and was like, “Oh my god, we love the show,” and it was a perfect fit and it was just great, and I’m so glad we got to do this!
What other art and media helped inspire the look of the show?
LH: That is a great question, I haven’t been asked that one yet! I think there were so many facets of things we wanted to do for the look. I remember having several conversations as far as what it looks like and how the characters dress. The wardrobe was the biggest thing, like how do you make someone who’s been alive for 500 years look like they live now, but still keep all of those things in the back of their head? Amber Watkins, who was the lead stylist, oh my god, we had so many needs, but she just crushed it all the time, everybody always looked great. It was amazing. With the look, I wanted it to live in a more cinematic universe. Obviously, these [vampires] are not real things, and basing it in a real-looking situation, tone-wise, wasn’t going to make sense. So the way we shot it was very much as if it was a horror movie, but funny. We kept it with the film-look and the darker tones, and we tried to always make things seem a bit nervous if you will. We didn’t go into it trying to shoot a sitcom, we went into it as if we weren’t even shooting a show, we were just shooting a horror movie. I think that shows a lot more in episode six, in the medieval episode. A lot of the mood board was Jennifer’s Body, The Prestige, and Scream Queens was in there a lot as well… like a dark preppy. Like if the cheerleader was goth. Someone on the team said, “It’s the rockstar and the rockstar’s girlfriend,” and that was the show. It’s the pretty-edgy thing.
Everyone always says to “write what you know.” Were there any elements of EZRA that was inspired by your own life? Apart from, you know, the murder and blood-drinking.
LH: The origin of EZRA was… I had an ex situation. He was a Gemini and he was crazy, he was insane! So when we were making Ezra, I was like, “Ezra has to be insane! Like, for him to do the things he does, he has to think it makes sense, right? So he has to be a Gemini. Because Geminis are crazy!” And that’s why in one of the first scenes of the show ever, Ezra does that voice over, that walk-in with that Ginger Snaps reference, and he goes, “My name is Ezra Gray… and I’m a psychotic Gemini.” And off the bat, now you know who this character is. And obviously the whole queer thing as well, but there was definitely a lot of life experiences kinda thrown in. We kinda built off experiences of what it is like to be queer and have those real-life situations be shown, but in a funny way, and how Ezra perceives them because he’s a Gemini. That’s kinda how we brought, for me especially, our own little twist to it. And one of the writers is a Gemini, so while we were writing it we were like, “[Ezra’s] crazy!” he was like, “Stop bullying me!” Astrology is mentioned a lot in the show and it means a lot in my life. In episode seven, Ezra has a line that goes, “Ian, the stars don’t lie, men do.” And that is my favorite line in the show!
DS: I love that! And I love how you were like, “Who’s Ezra? A Gemini, great, we got it!”
LH: But it paints such a picture!
DS: It does!
LH: You know who that person is! He’s reckless, he’s careless, he’s high-energy, he wants to have fun, he’s impulsive, he doesn’t think–no offense to Geminis, but that’s what it is.
What character was the most fun to write and why?
LH: Hm… that’s a hard one. I want to say Amber, but I think that’s only because of Veronika’s improv performance, she’s just so funny in the show. But as far as creating a character, I feel like Gwen was really fun to create. We really spent a lot of time trying to show the audience how she sees the world. I’m not going to say, Ezra, because he’s literally me, but trying to figure out how he makes decisions was really fun–I don’t know, that’s hard! They’re like my kids… But if I had to pick, I’m gonna say, Gwen, because we really spent a lot of time trying to make her someone Ezra can look up to and count on when he felt like he couldn’t really be himself, and Gwen was always herself, and that’s something we really wanted to focus on.
What is your favorite on-set story?
LH: They’re all with Veronika. Filming with her–she’s crazy, let me just start off by saying that, and she’s the funniest person I’ve ever met in my life. All of her dialogue was scripted, like what would happen in the scene, but she improv-ed everything. So I never knew what she was going to say, I just knew what was going to happen. That cafe scene, I was fighting for my LIFE to get through it, in episode two. I was crying, like I was sobbing! Like the ADs and the people on the crew, they’re shaking, because everyone’s trying so hard to be quiet, and she’s going off! At one point I just start screaming and crying of laughter, it was so funny, no one was able to keep it together it was insane! If I could redo any scene over again, it’d be anything with her because it was just so hilarious. Because she just sits there like a normal person, she sits there like nothing’s funny. Like everyone’s crying, and she’s just like, “Okay guys, let’s go.” At one point, and it made it in the show, in that cafe scene Matthew Finlan, who plays Cade in the show, is standing at the bar in the back, he ducks behind the counter because he couldn’t not laugh. We were all drowning! She’s absolutely phenomenal, and she’s so talented… I love her.
Do you have anything coming out that we should be looking out for?
LH: There’s a few things that are probably going to be talked about very soon, and I can’t say anything right now, but there are definitely things people should be looking out for. That’s all I can say right now, but I’m so excited EZRA’s out, fingers crossed for season two, and onto the next gay vampire!
Keep up with the show by following @ezratheseries and @lukehutchie on Instagram! The final two episodes of EZRA will be released on October 29th. You can watch the show on OUTtv’s streaming service in Canada and the US, as well as on Prime Video channels and the OUTtv Apple TV Channel.