Mitchell says that "Hedwig"—his Obie-winning off-Broadway play that also saw success as a 2001 film, and is now headed for Broadway—was based in large part on characters he knew growing up as an Army brat in Berlin. "[Hedwig's] emotional core just came from ... an understanding that we’re all very much these hybrids of all the people that we’ve met, you know?" he says. "And men, women, lovers, mothers, fathers, and reinterpreting the myth of the origin of love as a kind of collage of all the people we know, rather than just two halves."
Having both directed and starred in "Hedwig," Mitchell talks about how he enjoys having final say on his projects as a director, and that working on films with smaller budgets tends to make a director more relaxed about and open to taking notes. "I like all kinds of input," he says. "I have a lot of screenings; I have friends, I have strangers, you know, giving me their opinion, as long as I know I’m not going to be forced into something, that’s important to me. Obviously when you get into larger budgets, you have less of that freedom and I just, I’m not a person that tends to make stories for those larger budgets. To me, it’s not much fun to have that kind of pressure." Mitchell thinks big, popular movies can still be great, though he worries the economic problems in the film industry may ultimately result in fewer art features being produced.
Should gay culture go mainstream? Mitchell thinks it's inevitable—and necessary for gay people if they are to lead happier lives. But that this mainstreaming brings with it a certain cultural homogeneity. "Acceptance and assimilation, you know, breeds mediocrity and perhaps an even more sheep-like, conformism in terms of what kind of music you’re supposed to listen to if you’re gay... What are you supposed to look like? What’s your body supposed to look like? How are you supposed to have sex? How are you supposed to vote?... can get very boring and very, you get a lot of unexamined lives."