Billy Porter has 'a peace now' he's 'been trying to find for a long time'

Watch: Billy Porter reflects on what's in store for him in the future

Billy Porter's next chapter, both in his life and his career, is being shaped by one simple thing: freedom.

The actor is embracing what the universe has in store for him, and is ready to take on any challenge whether that's directing —as he did with 2022's Anything's Possible— or writing, as he will do with a forthcoming biopic about James Baldwin. He is one award away from an EGOT (he just needs an Oscar) and he's "excited for whatever else comes now" including his newest film Our Son with Luke Evans.

Porter's attitudes towards the future stems from a personal place, because when he's asked about how he sees his next chapter he shares: "Free, I'm free. My mother just passed, she was disabled and my sister was her primary caregiver since she was nine.

"And I realised that I loved her so much and was so tethered to her health, and making sure that she was taken care of and that she was cared for that, in her passing, there's no more pain. She's free, she's at peace, and therefore my sister and I are free.

I have a peace now that I've been trying to find for a long time. I did not know my peace and my freedom was tethered to my motherBilly Porter

Our Son (Universal)
Billy Porter reflected on the next chapter of his career, saying he feels more 'free' now in his work than he did before including with his new film Our Son. (Universal)

"I'm free in my work, I'm so excited for whatever else comes now and she flows through me. The spirit of my mother, the greatest woman that ever walked this earth, flows through me for the rest of creation."

Porter adds: "You know to be able to say I'm free made me feel guilty. It still makes me feel guilty saying it out loud sometimes. It still makes me feel guilty to say I'm free, and It's necessary. It's necessary."

Part of the next chapter in Porter's professional career includes Our Son, the queer family drama about husbands Gabriel (Porter) and Nicky (Evans) who go through a divorce and do what they can to protect their child. Divorce may not be a new narrative in cinema, but it has predominantly been shown from the straight perspective with Our Son delivering something different with its examination of how the event can impact a queer couple.

Our Son (Universal)
Our Son stars Billy Porter and Luke Evans as husbands who are going through a divorce, and who try to protect their son in the midst of it. (Universal)

Porter says matter-of-factly that "representation matters" on screen, adding: "You can't be what you can't see, all of that stuff. I never saw a representation of myself coming up, and anything that sorta looked like it maybe it was the butt of the joke, the one to be reviled or the one to be murdered.

I'm so grateful that I am alive in this time where I'm really a part of an evolution in storytelling that could not have existed anywhere or anytime before right nowBilly Porter

"This is it. It's powerful, and now that we're here it's up to us to make sure that we don't go back, ever."

Porter's Gabriel is the caregiver, the stay-at-home dad who looks after their son Owen (Christopher Woodley), while Evans' Nicky is a workaholic publisher who cares deeply for his family but has a harder time showing it.

"I always want to bring the truth," Porter says of playing Gabriel. "What was fascinating and growth-inducing for me, Billy, was Gabriel's truth. Cause in life, I'm Nicky, I've always been Nicky.

"I'm always Nicky, I am never Gabriel, and so inside of playing Gabriel I began to understand another perspective. As opposed to just hearing it and trying to understand it, but, inside, the truth transformed me. I get it in a way that I never did before."

Our Son (Universal)
Reflecting on the next chapter of his career since his mother's passing, Billy Porter said: 'I did not know my peace and my freedom was tethered to my mother'. (Universal)

The Pose star goes on: "The journey is human, and [parenthood is] the same for all of us. No matter who or what we are, it's the same. That's powerful."

What Porter appreciated the most about Our Son was that while it does feature tense confrontations and emotional scenes between Gabriel and Nicky, it leads audiences to a place of "healing". He was grateful the film didn't follow the trend that so many other films have done by ending on a negative note.

There's a lot of work these days [that's] just about decimation, hopelessness. That's not the kind of artist I am, I'm not going to blow you up and then leave you thereBilly Porter

"What I love about this script is that it blows you up and it leads you to something better, it leads you to the light. That's the kind of artist I am, and I'm grateful for this script, cause it really does that."

He achieved this alongside his co-star, Evans, though he admits they "didn't have time to build nothing" before cameras started rolling, because they could only meet once before the shoot and Evans later contracted Covid.

Our Son (Universal)
Billy Porter also reflected on making a film like Our Son, saying he is 'so grateful that I am alive in this time where I'm really a part of an evolution in storytelling' when it comes to queer cinema. (Universal)

"I had to shoot a week without him because he had Covid," Porter says. "We had only met and hung out at a cookout, so I was building the relationship on screen without ever having done a single scene with him. When he got there he didn't know what I had built, we just jumped off the ledge together.

I think that's what's so magical about what eventually we ended up with, you would have thought that we sat around and had time to talk, we didn't have any time — we're just fierceBilly Porter

"We came with the respect for the other person. We came with the trust already because we know each other's work, so it was easy to jump off the ledge with him."

The film's credits sees the pair sing a duet together called Always Be My Man, which Porter wrote for his newest album but felt was right to use for Our Son.

"I wrote Always Be My Man [when] the perspective was different. I wrote it for my now ex-husband [Adam Smith]," he says. "I wrote it when we were going through some turmoil, it was something else, and then I read this script and I realised, 'oh, it's actually larger, the theme can be larger in this song than just the marriage. It's what we do after the marriage'.

Our Son (Universal)
While it does feature tense confrontations and emotional scenes between his and Luke Evans' characters Gabriel and Nicky, the actor said it leads audiences to a place of 'healing'. (Universal)

"You can always be my man if we work on it, I love the expansion of what the song can be now that it's in the movie, what the song is now that it's in the movie."

Porter goes on: "It's a love duet, it's a movie with two out, above-the-title Hollywood names starring. It's not straight people, it's gay people starring in something gay and, at the end, the gay boys are singing a love duet to each other.

It's a first of something that we're not talking about enough. I think it's going right over people's headsBilly Porter

"It's like [Lost Inside of You] with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, Endless Love with Diana Ross and Lionel Richie. It's exciting, I love that it's out there."

Our Son (Universal)
Billy Porter said he 'made the decision in my thirties to look for and hopefully choose work that moves the needle'. (Universal)

Our Son is just the beginning of exciting things for Porter, as he says of his work: "Everybody gets put in the box. I made the decision in my thirties to look for and hopefully choose work that moves the needle, that changes something. We have the power to change.

"Toni Morrison writes, and this is one of my favourite quotes: 'This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There's no time for despair, no place for self pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. This is how civilisations heal.'

"As artists, we are healers. We have the power to be healers, I want to do that. That is what I'm interested in, the kind of work that heals."

Our Son is available to buy digitally now.

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