Joel Edgerton Explains Why Lucas Hedges Was Right to Play Gay Teen in ‘Boy Erased’ (Video)

Toronto Film Festival 2018: “I wanted representation to be part of that group. And with Lucas, there was an ‘I don’t know’ situation,” Edgerton told TheWrap

In “Boy Erased,” “Lady Bird” actor Lucas Hedges plays a teenage son of a Baptist preacher who is sent to a church-run, gay-conversion therapy camp when he’s forced to come out to his parents.

Taking such a role opened Hedges, 21, up to questions about his own sexuality. And in a New York Magazine interview, Hedges explained that he’s “not totally straight.”

“I recognize myself as existing on that spectrum: Not totally straight, but also not gay and not necessarily bisexual,” Hedges said.

But the director and co-star of “Boy Erased,” Joel Edgerton, applauded how his young star handled himself in that interview and explained why, despite having uncertainties about his sexuality, Hedges was still right to represent such a character on screen.

“I wanted representation to be part of that group. And with Lucas, there was an ‘I don’t know’ situation, and I’ve known him since he was a teenager, since he was very young,” Edgerton told TheWrap’s Matt Donnelly at TIFF 2018. “I’m very proud of how he handled that interview and how he’s been embraced for that, but it wasn’t really… he was the right guy, there was something in my sensation about knowing Lucas that just felt right.”

In addition to Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, the movie also stars Troye Sivan and Xavier Dolan, two young “out and proud” actors who Edgerton was proud to cast. But Garrard Conley, who wrote the memoir on which “Boy Erased” is based, also spoke with Hedges about some of the things that would eventually appear in the New York Magazine interview.

“I just knew he was the right person for this role,” Conley said. “Whenever we went to his apartment, he had my book marked up on every page.”

“He’s a very thorough, sensitive, well researched actor, who also is a really nice balance of head and heart and gut,” Edgerton said of Hedges. “He’s intuitive and yet doesn’t just assume to turn up and channel without research. I think really good actors do their homework and they also know how to fall off a cliff and land because they understand living in the moment.”

“Boy Erased” opens in theaters on November 2. Watch a clip from TheWrap’s TIFF interview above.