LU­CAS HEDGES COMES OF AGE, ONE FILM AT A TIME

From play­ing a newly par­ent­less son, a gay teen in de­nial, an abu­sive older brother, and a drug ad­dict in re­cov­ery, the ac­tor bares it all

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - Live - - ENTERTAINMENT - IANS AP

comic book world... I did not have any rea­son to feel like that would res­onate with my sen­si­bil­i­ties or my core prin­ci­ples. [But] he ex­plained this badass, kick­ass war­rior queen to me and I thought, sword and a crown? OK!”

With the pres­sure of the lead role on him for the first time, Lu­cas Hedges was hear­ing voices. Vivid movie-critic voices. “I would hear re­views in my head that were like: ‘It ap­pears as if Hedges has noth­ing go­ing on in his in­ner life. In what should be a very rich...’” says Hedges, writ­ing the imag­i­nary hatchet job in his head. “It was like: I’m never go­ing to work again. The stakes felt very high.”

The re­views, like just about ev­ery­thing the 21-year-old ac­tor has done, in­clud­ing his Os­car-nom­i­nated break­through role in Manch­ester by Sea (2016), have turned out quite the op­po­site for Hedges in his first star­ring role. The ac­claimed gay con­ver­sion ther­apy drama Boy Erased, is the lat­est in a string of dis­arm­ingly nat­u­ral per­for­mances by Hedges, even if dur­ing the film’s shoot, he felt like he was drown­ing.

Hedges ul­ti­mately found that the self-doubt could be ben­e­fi­cial. He could chan­nel it into his per­for­mance as Gar­rard Con­ley, who chron­i­cled his an­guished in­se­cu­rity as the gay son of Bap­tist par­ents (Nicole Kid­man, Rus­sell Crowe) sent to a con­ver­sion camp in a 2016 mem­oir, the ba­sis for Joel Edger­ton’s film.

“There’s al­ways a par­al­lel jour­ney go­ing on in all of these projects,” Hedges said in a re­cent in­ter­view. In parts large and small, Hedges has over the past two years as­sem­bled a por­trait gallery of young men in strained, anx­ious pe­ri­ods of tran­si­tion. He has been a newly par­ent­less son (Manch­ester by the Sea), a gay teen in de­nial (Lady Bird), an abu­sive older brother (Mid90s) and a drug ad­dict in re­cov­ery (Ben Is Back). Their strug­gles have all in some way mir­rored Hedges’ own; their com­ing of age has been his. “In the last few years, I’ve felt re­ally rest­less and search­ing for the ap­proval of the world,” says Hedges. “Mov­ing for­ward, I can’t say I’ll be drawn to the same roles. But these parts have felt like no­brain­ers. There’s been a lot of trans­for­ma­tion oc­cur­ring within me.” Both Boy Erased and Ben Is Back, Hedges says, are for him about over­com­ing shame. “Shame has been a big part of my life and some­thing I’ve re­ally be able to come faceto-face with through these projects. I’ve got­ten to look more di­rectly at my­self and heal those parts of me,” he says. “I try to ap­proach ev­ery part in terms of: This part has come to me to heal some­thing.”

Part of that process on Boy Erased was also com­ing to terms with his sex­u­al­ity. In an in­ter­view last month with New York Mag­a­zine, Hedges said he’s “not to­tally straight, but also not gay and not nec­es­sar­ily bi­sex­ual.” Say­ing that pub­licly, he says, has been a re­lief. “I don’t feel like I’m only at­tracted to women. There are peo­ple in my life that I’m afraid to say that to, and I don’t like it,” says Hedges. It may have been a tu­mul­tuous pe­riod in Hedges’ life, one cathar­ti­cally charted on screen. But it has brought him a hard-earned ma­tu­rity.

“For the first time in my life,” Hedges says, “I’m more set­tled in my­self.”

PART OF THAT PROCESS ON BOY ERASED WAS ALSO COM­ING TO TERMS WITH HIS SEX­U­AL­ITY

PHOTO:SHUT­TER­STOCK

Since break­ing out with his Os­car­nom­i­nated role in Manch­ester by the Sea, Lu­cas Hedges, 21, has main­tained a break­neck pace with his movie choices

PHOTO: SHUT­TER­STOCK

Ac­tor Am­ber Heard stars in the su­per­hero film Aqua­man, as the At­lantean war­rior Mera

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