Based on the memoir by Garrard Conley, Boy Erased is a true story about the gay son of a small-town Baptist pastor who is forced into a cruel conversion therapy program by his parents. Australia’s own Joel Edgerton not only plays the head conversion therapist, he also steps behind the camera to direct this beautiful film which will send praise into the stratosphere. And yes, I’d say there will be Awards talk too. Joel has rounded up film royalty for this movie, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe, alongside little known Atlanta treasure, Lindsey Moser, who’s no doubt on the path to huge success:
How did you get cast in Boy Erased?
Lindsey: Funny story, I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it to the audition after my agent rang at short notice to say it’s in an hour! I just couldn’t get there. Incredibly, through a miracle, I did arrive, although 30 minutes late. But they were so backed up, nobody noticed I was way late. Plus I was the last person to enter the audition room. When I went in, Joel Edgerton alongside producers David Craig and Kerry Kohansky-Roberts had a quick conversation then had me do a ‘cold’ read. There was this one word, something simple, like ‘extraordinary’ that I totally botched (laughs), it was embarrassing! But for some reason, they were so sweet, complimentary. And Joel and I had on the same white shirt with blue stripes on that day. About a week later, I got the call, so it must’ve been the shirt, because I felt I botched the audition!
Why should people see Boy Erased?
Lindsey: To be moved, enlightened by a beautiful film, super relevant to what’s happening in the world, if nothing else. And be a part of a different, well-told story. As few know about “conversion therapy”, through sharing the story, maybe it will not continue to occur?
You’re part of an important area of this story – were you aware of the procedure of gay conversion therapy?
Lindsey: As someone from the South, I had heard of it, whispers, or that it was a thing in the South. Unfortunately, it so happened, I didn’t really know much about it.
As an actor, Joel Edgerton is highly regarded by all. How is he as a director?
Lindsey: All actors make the best directors in my opinion. There are also incredible directors who have never acted also, but there’s something about an actor sitting in the director’s chair, giving them a leg up. Also Joel pays acute attention to detail more so than any other film experience I’ve worked on making you respect his dedication, especially in this story, with dignity and high respect. He is a kind person to everyone, maybe a little shy in some ways. The month or so I was on set it became incredibly amazing to watch him switch back and forth from behind to in front of the camera seamlessly including going in and out of accent! Doctor Sykes (Joel’s character) is a very unique character so different from Joel himself which made the transition even more terrific.
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With such strong subject matter, what was it like being part of it all?
Lindsey: Shooting was quite intense, the environment around the material was challenging. There were times it became heartbreaking due to fear, uncertainty, oppression and judgement forcing you as an actor to be in control. I’m grateful to have the experience. It makes me sad that people have encountered this in real life. Horrifying.
Awards season is looming, how would you feel if this is recognised?
Lindsey: Huge. Proud. Grateful and happy for all who worked so hard to achieve the film they made. Mostly for author Garrard Conley with his entire family, for the trauma associated with this true story. I told him recently I was so sorry that this is his story but can’t believe this is your ending. To me, an award would be the power of God. Within these conversion therapy places they try to tell you God is one thing, but really what God does is take human mistakes to make it into the best thing that can ever happen to you in my opinion.
Lucas Hedges, who plays the lead Jared Eamons, is one outstanding actor beyond his years, what did you think of him?
Lindsey: I KNOW, right? Everything you imagine him to be, he is. We spent time on set together, had lunch on a couple of days. He is so kind, gentle, vulnerable but equally as funny, spontaneous or playful. Young but obviously wise. He certainly brought the best out of me and it was wonderful to act opposite him.
What was it like working with such finely tuned actors like Nicole Kidman?
Lindsey: It’s the BEST acting lesson you could ever get. Everyday, I’m with people like that, I learn. I was on camera often with Lucas Hedges, but with Nicole, there were times I was able to just watch, and couldn’t really learn because of being so wrapped up by her in the story. She’s an ultimate professional. I found myself emotionally affected by her performance until my inner voice said, ‘wait you’re working, stop it!’ (laughs). Unfortunately, I didn’t work with Russell on set but Nicole, Joel, Lucas and all the cast inspired me to act well.
Troye Sivan is another all round talent, tell me about him.
Lindsey: Like Lucas Hedges, Troye is fun to be around, boyish, vulnerable and he’s a little edgy which is entertaining. Was lovely to get to know him while becoming an instant fan. Until then, I wasn’t aware of his music! Now I’m a huge admirer.
After the Los Angeles premiere, how was your reaction and audience?
Lindsey: Crying with everybody else, for a couple of reasons. You know, most people have traumatic situations in life that may happen or change the core of who they are. Lucas and Nicole did so beautifully in a scene as they sat together at the table when she apologised. An emotional masterclass. After that, when he stood up to his father, it was a proud moment of pure storytelling, riveting acting. The audience seemed to be totally absorbed. Was my first red carpet too! Exciting!
What’s next? Someone’s got to cast you as a lead!
Lindsey: Currently doing independent projects. Next year, Best as Enemies with Sam Rockwell. He is quiet, kind, super cool, another wonderful actor to work with. Also The Inspectors (TV series), I have a large supporting role coming up. That show is about as close to a lead role I’ve had so far.
BOY ERASED Rated MA 114 minutes, NOW SHOWING IN AUSTRALIAN CINEMAS