Joel Edgerton and Garrard Conley on “Boy Erased”
Scott Menzel: I want to first say that I love this film so incredibly much. Thank you for making it. I saw it as Telluride.
Joel Edgerton: Oh wow.
Scott Menzel: It blew my mind.
Joel Edgerton: Awesome. Thank you very much.
Garrard Conley: Thank you.
Scott Menzel: Kind of going off that, you’ve had a hell of a tour with this movie already. For both of you, how has it been to have that festival tour and having this kind of reaction from the film?
Joel Edgerton: Well, it was very important for me … Part of the choice of how to put the film together, who to put in the movie, and therefore putting it on a cinema screen was a chance to do festivals, do as many screenings and Q&As, have as much face time as possible, so we can talk. The film is the film, but then there’s also stuff to be said around it. It’s been important to have constant dialogue and I’m always happy to talk about stuff that I was happy doing, which helps.
Garrard Conley: For me, I’ve been trying to knock on all these doors forever to talk about conversion therapy, so to suddenly have every media source reaching out is amazing because we can actually elevate the conversation.
Scott Menzel: For you, thank you for letting this man share your story. What were some reservations that you had about doing that?
Garrard Conley: I think with any Hollywood depiction of either LGBTQ people or Southerners, there’s always the risk of cliché. So I was worried about that, but with Joel, I’d seen him on his press for Loving talking about marriage equality. Then whenever he first met with me, he wanted to meet with other survivors of conversion therapy. This was a man who was very serious about getting it right. He also met with my family, he met with my husband. There was a lot of effort taken to really understand where I was coming from. I suddenly knew this isn’t going to be your standard cardboard cutout story.
Joel Edgerton: Really, the hard thing for me, the real challenge was being honest to a story which I’d come to, expecting to see some vicious barbed wire facility, salacious curiosity. They do exist, but the reason to make this, Garrard’s life, into a film was there’s such a hopeful end to the story. As harrowing as the journey is, the fact that people are willing, in his life, his parents, to reexamine those choices in their own way and realize what they thought was born out of love and help created more pain and hurt, and that that can speak to a lot of people. That was worth the journey.
Garrard Conley: We hope that parents that watch this can, if they’ve made a mistake, see this as a roadmap to doing the right thing, especially with Nicole’s character.
Scott Menzel: I have to also say that one thing that really stood out about this movie to me was that every person involved felt so passionately about the material and about your story. You don’t see that in every film, and I thought that was remarkable. Can you talk really briefly about what it was like to cast this film and for you to see these incredible actors play people of your life?
Joel Edgerton: Well, I can say quite simply that everybody I went to read and signed up very quickly, felt very passionate, like us. I didn’t have to wait long to gather a team in front of the camera and behind the camera. Not just members of the LGBTQ community representing as actors in some cases, but behind the screen, but also just allies, people, in general, felt passionate. I felt like I had an incredible energy and support moving forward. It was very easy to get the team together.
Garrard Conley: It certainly helped being on set with a bunch of people who were all saying, “This is important, let’s get it out there.” I think I’ve been spoiled. If there’s ever another adaptation, god, I don’t know if that’ll ever happen, but if there is of my work, then I’ll just be like, “Well, it’s not as good as what Joel did.”
Scott Menzel: True story.
Garrard Conley: They’re going to hate you.
Joel Edgerton: But I’ll be doing the second part.
Garrard Conley: Yeah, okay, good.
Joel Edgerton: You’ll be saying that to me.
Scott Menzel: All right, well thank you very much. It was lovely.
Joel Edgerton: Thank you.
Scott Menzel: I wish you nothing but success.
Garrard Conley: Thank you.
Joel Edgerton: Thank you so much.