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Childhood nightmares drew Joel Edgerton to Boy Erased

November 8, 2018 5:00 AM
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It’s what drew him to making Boy Erased, based on a novel about a young man forced into gay conversion therapy by his Christian fundamentalist parents.

“The basis of all my nightmares as a child was always about being institutionalized or abducted or put in boarding school and being taken away from my parents. So I love movies about breaking out of prisons,” said the Australian actor making his second film, in which he also plays Victor, the head of the program.

But the book by Garrard Conley, based on his own experience, is more than a story about misguided religious zeal gone awry.

“There was this family story that I thought was so rich and textured and complicated and had such a reservoir of possibility for hope and redemption that I just felt everyday more and more compelled to do something about it. And so here I am,” Edgerton said.

Part of the research for Edgerton meant going “deep into Arkansas,” meeting the real-life Conleys and listening to the Baptist sermons which holds that every word in the Bible — condemnation of homosexuality in Leviticus, for example — is the literal word of God.

It’s something real-life father Hershel Conley is still struggling with.

“The father is still not all the way there. He’s still stuck between his son and his congregation,” Edgerton noted.


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