At Focus Features’ CinemaCon presentation, Joel Edgerton revealed that “salacious reasons” led him to flip through Garrard Conley’s memoir, “Boy Erased,” which Edgerton (“The Gift”) adapted into his second directed feature. Out September 28, the film casts Lucas Hedges as Jared, a Southern teen who is sent to gay conversion therapy by his religious mom and dad (Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe). Edgerton plays the program’s head therapist.
“I’m obsessed with cults and prisons, and I felt like I was going to get this glimpse into a world I’d heard about,” Edgerton told moderator Dave Karger during a luncheon at Casears Palace in Las Vegas. Then he introduced the first footage of the film shared with the public.
In opening scene shown, Jared stands in his kitchen, apologizing to his distressed parents for breaking up with his girlfriend and being attracted to men. Jared seems to be a well-rounded kid with a bright future — he’s on the basketball team, works at a car dealership, and attends church. Still, his father gives him an ultimatum: attend gay conversion therapy, or move out. Jared chooses the former; glimpses at said camp harken back to this year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.”
“You leave Garrard’s story feeling like the true conversion that is at the heart of the movie is the conversion of his ideas,” said Edgerton. He was joined in conversation with Hedges, who once again seems poised to turn a burdened teen (“Manchester by the Sea”) into an awards season contender.
“I’m a very anxious and nervous actor, so I tend to get very paranoid and afraid of scenes before we film them,” said the 21-year-old, an American on set with Aussies who put him at ease. “I have several memories of Nicole where I just forgot everything, forgot everything about where I was, just looking at her. I’m just like, ‘What’s going on here?’ But not even like, ‘It’s Nicole Kidman.’ She’s my mom, and everything about her centered me…It’s the same with Russell.”
Meanwhile, the presentation featured more dynamic actor-director pairings. Saoirse Ronan helped Josie Rourke introduce the footage of their period piece “Mary Queen of Scots” (December 7). Ronan and her fellow 2018 Best Actress Oscar nominee Margot Robbie portray dueling redheads. As Queen Elizabeth I, Robbie orders the execution of her populist cousin, Mary Stuart (Ronan), a who challenges her for England’s throne after she becomes a young widow. “Mary Queen of Scots” includes large-scale, forest battle scenes, and lots of high collars and voluminous skirts from well-qualified costume designer Alexandra Byrne (she won Academy gold in 2008 for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”).
Felicity Jones and her “On the Basis of Sex” (November 9) director Mimi Leder were also in attendance, revealing that their subject, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, visited their set and loves the result.