In David Michod’s loose Shakespeare adaptation “The King,” Joel Edgerton plays Falstaff opposite Timothée Chalamet’s Hal. While the epic production marks Chalamet’s first Netflix project, it’s unlikely to be his last: He’s still gnashing his teeth over deciding to pass on a streamer deal for his 2018 Focus Features release, “Boy Erased.”
For years, Edgerton has shifted between acting, writing, and directing — he shares a screenplay credit on “The King” with Michod — and Focus released Edgerton’s sophomore effort “Boy Erased,” which the filmmaker adapted from Garrard Conley’s memoir about his experiences as a young man subjected to gay conversion therapy. Despite a prominent launch pad on the fall festival circuit, and solid reviews, “Boy Erased” only garnered $11.8 million at the box office. And while it boasted strong turns from Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe, it did not turn into the awards-season player that its profile suggested it could become.
In an interview in New York to promote the release of “The King,” Edgerton recalled the logic behind accepting the Focus deal over what Edgerton called “a streaming situation.” Said Edgerton, “We had a really interesting debate about which way to go. Focus had this incredible track record with putting out these LGBTQ films like ‘Brokeback’ and ‘Milk,’ so I felt we were in the right hands. We wanted to create a face-to-face scenario where we’d have face time with audiences and have Q&As and generate discussions. To me, it felt like that was the right way to go.”
However, Edgerton said his experiences with Netflix have led him to contemplate the missed opportunities with his last directing credit. “The moment you put something on a streaming platform, everybody in every household in all these countries can see it at the exact same time,” he said. “You don’t get that chatter — and this was sad for me — of, ‘When is this film coming to my country?’ or, ‘I have to drive five hours to see it,’ or, ‘I just can’t afford the time and money.'”
Edgerton added: “I realized, ‘OK, that’s a good enough reason to put a movie as soon as you can on Netflix, especially with ‘Boy Erased.’ The pride that everybody felt with that film about the ability to help start conversations within families, change points of views, make them feel differently in their lives, made me wish we could’ve just dropped it everywhere rather than holding onto it.”