With Boy Erased, writer/director Joel Edgerton has crafted something essential. Based on Garrard Conley‘s harrowing memoir of the same name, the film follows Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges), a 19-year-old forced to attend a conversion therapy camp after coming out to his Baptist preacher father (Russell Crowe) and religiously doting mother (Nicole Kidman). It’s a quietly devastating film led by a subtle, internal performance from Hedges, who makes the absolute most of his first leading role after earning a Best Supporting Oscar nomination for Manchester By the Sea. The film also stars Troye Sivan as a sympathetic fellow attendee of the camp and Edgerton himself as the program’s harsh, authoritarian leader.
Before Boy Erased‘s premiere, I sat down with Hedges to discuss the film. During the interview, we talked about the key to delivering an internal, under-the-surface performance, being intimidated when Russell Crowe walked on to set, how he immersed himself in the film’s southern world after being born and raised in Brooklyn, how feeling like an outsider has helped him as an actor, and how being a “very weird person” helped him land the role.
Check out what he had to say above, and below is exactly what we talked about:
- How he delivers a big emotional performance when most of the character’s reactions take place beneath the surface.
- How he immersed himself in the character’s religious southern upbringing when he was actually born and raised in Brooklyn to artist parents.
- How never feeling like he quite belonged has helped him as an actor.
- Why the “air was sucked out of the room” when Russell Crowe walked on to set.
- Why Joel Edgerton wanted a “weirdo” to play the role.
Here’s the official synopsis for Boy Erased:
“Boy Erased” tells the story of Jared (Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (Kidman and Crowe) at age 19. Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a conversion therapy program – or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith. Boy Erased is the true story of one young man’s struggle to find himself while being forced to question every aspect of his identity.