Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

A Twist on Turning; BIG NAMES PUT THE SPOTLIGHT ON MOVIE EDGERTON 'WISHED HE DIDN'T HAVE TO MAKE'

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

A Twist on Turning; BIG NAMES PUT THE SPOTLIGHT ON MOVIE EDGERTON 'WISHED HE DIDN'T HAVE TO MAKE'

Article excerpt

Byline: WORDS: SEANNA CRONIN

Boy Erased is a film Joel Edgerton passionately threw his weight behind as writer, director and actor. But he wishes he didn't have to make it.

Based on Garrard Conley's 2016 memoir of the same name, the film tells the story of the son of a Baptist preacher forced into a church-supported gay conversion program.

It's a practice that still exists, for both adults and minors, in the US and Australia.

"After the screening (in Sydney) I met two young men who had been through gay conversion therapy in Australia," he says.

"It was a very emotional experience and I was very illuminated. I was at once happy to meet them and then sad at the fact that I had to meet them in the first place. In the same way, it's so weird I put a year and a half into this movie and have quite openly said I wish the movie didn't have to exist."

Edgerton plays Victor Sykes, the head therapist at the Love In Action program, and he was able to meet John, the person the character is based on, in Texas.

"He has an entirely new life now that turns its back on conversion therapy," he says. "He was very transparent and open about his previous points of view and the therapy he administered to people. He acknowledged the guilt he felt about the people his practices had affected, both the people in the program and the families.

"The biggest thing is it affects not only the dynamic of families but imagine trying to then form healthy relationships (as a gay person), but constantly being plagued by this niggling past fear that you were always told those relationships were wrong or sinful."

The meeting with John reinforced Edgerton's sensitive and considered approach to the story, which points out the flaws in the practice rather than vilifying any of the people involved.

"I realised I wasn't trying to do an impersonation of him," he says. "One thing that did land for me was how charismatic and affable and interesting he was as a person, and separating him from his ideas. …

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