“I’m the diversity hire,” Stoller, who is straight, told me.
He thought immediately of Eichner, whom he had worked with on “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” and the acerbic Netflix series “Friends From College.” In between seasons of that show, he called Eichner up, suggesting they collaborate. “Definitely,” Stoller remembers Eichner saying.
Eichner, speaking in April from, as he put it, “Las Vegas, of all terrible places,” where he had just debuted the “Bros” trailer, remembers it a little differently. He had never written a movie. He had never starred in one. And he had come to believe he never would. He had loved rom-coms as a kid. His parents took him to “When Harry Met Sally,” “Pretty Woman” (yikes), “Dirty Dancing,” “Sleepless in Seattle.”
Staring up at the screen, as a 14-year-old, Eichner remembered thinking, “I could do that. I could be Tom Hanks in this movie.”
But two decades in the entertainment industry had taught him that as a gay man, the Tom Hanks roles were not available to him. And that even gay roles — in “In & Out,” say, or “The Birdcage,” or “Brokeback Mountain,” which “Bros” briefly satirizes — were often played by straight actors. At least one was played by Hanks. (Remember “Philadelphia”?)
“It was just always implied that my options would be very limited,” he said.
Still, he agreed to write “Bros.” Even though he worried he wouldn’t have anything to say. “I haven’t had many serious relationships in my adult life,” he said. “I’m not against them, I’m not an antirelationship person. It’s just not something that has happened to me.”
And then one night, a story began to suggest itself: two men, attracted to each other but both wary of commitment, especially as they grew up before same-sex marriage was legalized. Out and proud but also scared and self-doubting, Bobby stumbles toward a relationship with Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), a macho trusts and estates lawyer.