Joey Pollari says he was almost certain he didn't get the part in blockbuster teen film "Love, Simon."
During the audition, he embarrassingly mispronounced a word, stumbled nervously through his lines, and came dressed looking the part of the role he was auditioning for: a Waffle House employee. He was the only actor auditioning who did so.
It appears the waiter look didn't end up hurting his chances too much, though. The 23-year-old from Minnesota landed the role of "Lyle" in "Love, Simon" — Greg Berlanti's groundbreaking film based on Becky Albertalli's 2015 bestselling novel, "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda."
Standing in a buzzing movie theater lobby, 21-year-old Ashley Kessler flips her phone around excitedly so I can see the screen.
There are pics on pics on pics capturing the two times she's already seen the film "Love, Simon" at advanced screenings. Her smiley, scruffy dad standing by her side proudly points out a photo of actor Nick Robinson, who stars in the lead role, at an event for the film's premiere. Clearly, they're big fans.
Tonight — March 16, the movie's official opening day — marks Kessler's third trip to experience Hollywood history in the making. "It’s really, really good," she says of the film, grinning.
Dozens of young people just like Kessler are crowded around us, anxiously waiting to see Simon Spier’s love story play out on the big screen. And I'm finally seeing with my own two eyes what all the fuss is about.
The gay hype, I've decided, is justified.
Author Becky Albertalli signs copies of "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda" in New York the night "Love, Simon" is released in theaters. Photo by Robbie Couch/Upworthy.