Michael Cimino Says He Consulted His Gay Cousin About Love, Victor Role: 'It Was Very Special'
Love, Victor — the television sequel to the hit 2018 film Love, Simon — follows a young teen discovering his sexuality
Michael Cimino knew just who to turn to help him prepare for his role in Love, Victor.
Cimino, who stars as a gay teen discovering his sexuality in the Hulu original, told PEOPLE that he sought out the advice of a family member before he began filming.
"I talked to my cousin, who is gay," he said. "He told me things that really hurt him and helped him [when he was coming out.] It was very special for both of us."
The 20-year-old Las Vegas native also stressed the importance of making his character relatable to all audiences.
"I wanted Victor to feel like a real human being," he said. "I feel like the most important thing about this whole story is that someone could relate to Victor and relate to his story, no matter what your sexual orientation is, no matter what ethnicity you are. And I feel like adding elements of myself and of my cousin, did that."
Love, Victor — the television sequel to the hit 2018 film Love, Simon — follows a young teen as he moves to a new city and must navigate starting over at high school and dealing with problems at home, all while trying to come to terms with his sexuality.
The show premiered on Hulu on Wednesday — and Cimino says it's no coincidence that the series launched during Pride month.
"I think it's vitally important to have pieces of art, TV shows, movies, that represent that struggle, and accurately depict what people go through," he said. "A show like this bridges gaps."
He said he hopes his character's story helps sparks positive conversations about accepting others and being true to yourself.
RELATED VIDEO: The Cast of Love, Victor Break Down the show's 'Beautiful' Message: People Can Be 'Uniquely Themselves'
"Being gay is not something that runs in your family. If you're gay, you can't just be like, 'Hey, Dad, what is it like to be part of the LGBT community?' It's not like that," he said. "A lot of people don't know how to cope, and they don't know who to reach out to, to learn how to cope with it. Obviously, Victor's struggle is unique because everyone's story is very unique and different, but it's very important to be telling those stories so that people can have a conversation."
Love, Victor is streaming now on Hulu.
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