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After making an indelible mark on TV, Saturday Night Live's Bowen Yang is now poised to become a movie star.
The 31-year-old comedian, a standout on the sketch comedy show thanks to his quirky, original characters like the iceberg from Titanic, has his first lead film role in Fire Island, a romantic comedy loosely based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
The film, directed by Andrew Ahn and streaming on Hulu June 3, follows a group of friends played by Yang, his real-life pal Joel Kim Booster (who also wrote the script), Matt Rogers, Tomás Matos and Torian Miller as they head to the New York hotspot Fire Island for their annual summer getaway.
And just like the Bennett sisters from the classic 19th-century novel, the characters in Fire Island navigate a society filled with folks who are quick to judge others. In fact, Booster got the idea for the movie when he was reading Austen's book during a getaway to Fire Island with Yang. "It was our first trip together there and he just was like, 'Oh, this is mapping so neatly thematically onto the way people treat each other here. Isn't that so funny?'" Yang tells PEOPLE.
Booster turned that observation into a feel-good, heartfelt story that's also groundbreaking: The movie is a same-sex love story with a largely AAPI cast, including Margaret Cho. It's a fact that Bowen says he "took for granted" while filming because he was so immersed in the moviemaking. "It just became the unspoken ethos of the whole production," Yang says.
"It's only becoming apparent to me now, as we're talking about this movie and that it's about to come out," he continues. "I feel like it is pretty striking that we're putting this chosen family story into a movie that still has entry points for anybody to enjoy it."
Indeed, the movie is filled with laugh-out-loud one-liners and hilarious scenes including Yang performing Britney Spears' pop ballad "Sometimes" at a bar. "It was really nerve-racking," admits Yang, who says the lyrics about being scared reflect his character, Howie.
He even chose the song himself. "My single favorite thing about the movie is that, at least in terms of my contribution, is that I had to send Andrew and Joel a list of songs that could be potentially cleared for [what] he sang. The top of my list was 'Sometimes,'" continues Yang.
Yang's major role in Fire Island is bound to make him an even bigger star—and earn him even more famous fans, like Kim Kardashian. A clip of the reality star asking the actor for a photo after she hosted Saturday Night Live recently went viral. "It completely blows my mind," says Yang, adding he took her request as a compliment: "[She was] letting me know that she enjoyed her experience or her time on the show and that she enjoyed our time together."
Kardashian, who is dating Yang's former SNL costar Pete Davidson, and the Emmy-nominated actor are now texting buddies. "Every now and then, she'll send a nice message and she'll be like, 'You got to come to LA or something,'" says Yang. "I'm like, 'Kim, say the word. I'm there. I'll fly the plane myself.'"
But the SKIMS founder is not the most famous person Yang has in his phone. That would be Sandra Bullock. "She's saved under—because she put it into my phone in herself— Sandy Bullock. And I get to call her Sandy now," he says.
Yang had a bit part in her movie The Lost City, and the two keep in touch. "She'll…reach out and be like, 'Hey, congrats on this. Congrats on that.' She'll just be very keyed into what's going on in people's lives when she's one of the most accomplished actors working."
Fire Island streams on Hulu June 3.