Aussie actor Joel Edgerton has been on something of a roll as of late. Last year, he earned a Golden Globe nomination for his critically admired turn as unexpected civil rights activist Richard Loving in Jeff Nichols’ period docudrama Loving and two years ago he turned heads by directing, writing and starring in the sleeper thriller The Gift. Deadline was the first report a provocative new project – entitled Boy Erased – that Edgerton appears set to direct and star; he also penned the screenplay. Reportedly, Hollywood is paying attention as various distributors have expressed interest. Edgerton is producing the title alongside Anonymous Content.
The project itself lends a certain stature. Adapted from the memoir by Garrard Conley, the film will focus on the experiences of a 19-year old son of a Baptist pastor in Arkansas who is outed as gay. Consumed by pressure from his family and his conservative small town, Conley turned to Love in Action, a program that served as a conversion therapy in an attempt to “fix” his homosexuality. Boy Erased could potentially mine complex themes – sexual identity, bigotry and coming of age – as Conley comes to terms with his sexual orientation and grows empowered from his experiences.
Lucas Hedges, who last year broke out in Manchester by the Sea and earned an Oscar nomination for his lauded role, is attached to play the central character with Edgerton tapped to portray the man who heads the conversion therapy. Furthermore, the film may become a star-studded affair as Oscar winners (and fellow famous Aussies) Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman are reportedly in the mix to portray Conley’s parents.
The project comes as Edgerton is about to open the critically admired thriller It Comes at Night. He will soon appear opposite Will Smith in the David Ayer-directed science fiction film Bright and recently completed production on the thriller Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence. Edgerton is currently filming Gringo, an upcoming drama also starring Charlize Theron that is being directed by Nash Edgerton, his brother. Hedges, wasting no time post-Oscar nomination, will soon appear in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as well as the comedy Lady Bird starring Saoirse Ronan and directed by Greta Gerwig.
The project, expected to start production this fall, may soon become the source of a bidding war as AnnaPurna Pictures, Amazon Studios, Netflix and Focus Features all may be expressing interest in the feature. We shall stay tuned to the latest involving Boy Erased.