Q&A with Writer/Director Joel Edgerton on Gay Conversion Drama Boy Erased

Joel Edgerton might not be the first person you’d expect to make a movie based on Boy Erased, Garrard Conley’s memoir of his experience in gay conversion therapy. The writer/director has steadily staked a claim as a reliably terrific actor in action- and suspense-oriented fare; see Warrior, Zero Dark Thirty, Midnight Special, and It Comes at Night for proof. (Edgerton was also the sole redeeming factor of Netflix’s orc-cop buddy flick Bright, in which he, nearly unrecognizable under pounds of makeup, turned in a terrific, emotive performance about 1,000 times better than the movie deserved.) While Edgerton gives himself a juicy role in Boy Erased as the slightly deranged leader of a conversion therapy program, he’s otherwise content to give center stage to the film’s timely and important story. It stars Lucas Hedges as Conley’s stand-in, Jared Eamons, and Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman as his well-meaning but conservative parents who send him away in a misguided attempt to turn him straight. The film is subtle and heartfelt in showing how good intentions—when they’re based on rancid, bigoted philosophies—can affect even the families that truly love each other. Edgerton spoke with the Mercury about the making of Boy Erased.

MERCURY: Your previous screenplays—including those for your brother Nash’s film, The Square, and your own directorial debut, The Gift—could be considered thrillers. Did taking on a true story about a social issue feel like a left turn for you?

JOEL EDGERTON: In many ways, yeah, it’s definitely a bit of a departure. Some of my tastes and interests in being an actor is about jumping all over the spectrum and not feeling like I can be pinned down to a certain brand. Some of the filmmakers that I’ve really admired do a similar thing—knowing that every time the Coen Brothers pushed a new film out into the world, it seemed like they were exercising their right to tell all sorts of stories, and Stanley Kubrick the same. My feeling is that I wouldn’t want to just keep making the same movie. I’ve always had an interest to do stuff that’s suspense- or genre-based, but even while The Gift was one-half a genre experience, it was also a drama. Boy Erased shares some elements—conversion therapy and some of the aspects of Garrard’s real-life story lend themselves to a real sense of fear.

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Movies & TVNewsTV

So Long, True Believers: Stan Lee, 1922-2018

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Stanley Martin Lieber was born on December 28th, 1922, in New York City. Over the course of his 95-years-long and amazingly eventful life, which ended in Los Angeles on November 12th, 2018, he came to inhabit many titles and many positions within the entertainment industry: Inkwell-filler. Proofer. Writer. Editor-in-Chief. Publisher. Chairman. The Man.

But the position he held most proudly in that life was ambassador. It was unofficial, of course; there isn't really an office at Marvel or DC for "Ambassador of Superhero Comics," but Stan Lee held it all the same, for longer than anyone else ever had (or ever will), and used the powers of that office to spend damn near every waking hour of his life making the strongest case to anyone who would listen—be it a hardened movie executive, or a small ring of awed children at a comics convention—that superheroes didn't just make their fictional worlds better through feats of strength and sacrifice, but they made our worlds better, too.

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Civic Doobie Duty: Portland's Putting Together a Cannabis Policy Oversight Team

Just because the elections are over doesn't mean your civic duty is done. If you have a strong interest in cannabis policy, your city needs you. Consider this the cannabis equivalent of the Bat Signal.

The City of Portland is accepting applications until this Thursday, November 15, to apply for the City of Portland’s Cannabis Policy Oversight Team, the public advisory body for Portland cannabis policy.

I spoke with Brandon Goldner, Coordinator for the City of Portland's Cannabis Program about the Oversight Team, and who they are hoping will apply.

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Well, I Guess I Wanna Be Milked

Those ballot boxes get stuffed at the end of the night.
Those ballot boxes get stuffed at the end of the night. Tracey Cataldo

The first time I came was in my bedroom with all the lights on and a chair blocking the door to prevent my mom from walking in. I was 14. While touching myself never felt wrong or gross, something about watching people fuck seemed more off limits, something only boys did. But as I started flicking the bean more, I quickly got bored just imagining PG-13 situations in my head or focusing on the feeling. I wanted, no needed, to see some kind of penetration, fingers in pussies, dicks in mouths, to hear the whimpers, cries, “fuck yeah, like that,” flesh slapping flesh to get off.

I started off reading “erotica” on Urban Dictionary definitions of words (lol) but quickly jumped into trolling Tumblr porn blogs for five-minute clips using the search words “trib,” “lesbian,” “3some,” “sex porn video,” and names of male pornstars who my teenage virginal self thought didn’t indiscriminately pound women but fucked, like actually fucked. This sort of cracked open in me this intense need to consume and learn as much as I could about sex, desire, and eroticism in general. But in the ongoing process of growing into my sexual self, sometimes I wonder how the intensely exploitative penis-centric sex and male-gaze-heavy porn industry affected everyone I had sex with, especially men, or even talked with sex about.

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The I, Anonymous Blog Submission o' the Day: Treachery at the Coffee Pot!


Treachery comes in all shapes and sizes—and in this case, treachery has taken the form of taking a bite out of each of the break room's doughnuts. From the I, Anonymous Blog:

I took a gigantic bite out of each doughnut which our main industrial supplies vendor left for you, then I re-boxed them neatly and left them next to the coffee pot for you to discover. I spit the un-chewed bites into the trash next to the coffee pot—and I'm glad you actually saw them!

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The Second Wave of Portland’s Meth Epidemic Hits Homeless Hardest

Mercury Staff

Brian Wagner was 13 years old when he began using methamphetamines.

“It was a survival tactic,” he says. “It would help me stay awake until my abusive stepdad went to sleep.”

More than a decade later, Wagner’s on-and-off addiction to meth led to him living in a tent in Portland. There, he’d use meth to stay awake and warm during winter nights. It also suppressed his appetite, meaning he wouldn’t have to buy food.

“It can numb the experience you’re going through,” Wagner says. “It helps when you don’t want to live with reality.”

After three years living outdoors, Wagner entered a residential drug treatment program, and left meth—and homelessness—behind. Not all are so lucky.

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To Celebrate Kranky’s 25th Anniversary, Here Are the Experimental Label’s 10 Most Essential Releases

GROUPER Fri 11/16 First Congregational United Church of Christ
GROUPER Fri 11/16 First Congregational United Church of Christ Tanja Engelberts

Since 1993, Chicago record label Kranky has been setting the pace for experimental and post-rock scenes around the world. Co-founded by friends Joel Leoschke and Bruce Adams, the imprint was crucial in introducing foundational artists such as Low, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Deerhunter. Kranky also holds a deep connection with the city of Portland, having released work by Jessamine, Ethernet, and their newest signing, Saloli.

It’s fitting, then, that Kranky would choose our city to kick off their run of 25th anniversary celebrations happening around the US in November and December. With the help of multimedia wizards Ambient Church, Kranky is taking over the First Congregational United Church of Portland for two evenings of performances, including headlining sets by Grouper and Vancouver, BC-based ambient producer Loscil, along with an immersive light show.

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Sex Survey Results: Apparently You Like Public Sex

Mike Merg

In the current issue of the Portland Mercury, we published the highly arousing results of our 2018 Sex Survey. What did we learn? Well, for one thing, Portlanders really seem to enjoy having sex in public. Here's a little taste:


Want to learn more about how you, your friends, and your neighbors have sex (including your favorite kinks, the best places to find sex partners, who gets the most carnal action, and gettin' busy on the job with co-workers)? Check out the Mercury's 2018 Sex Survey results HERE (or in our print version on the street right now if you don't need a computer's help to get what you need).

Good Morning, News: California's on Fire, Trump Ignores Veterans, and Portland Mulls Protest Rules

David McNew / Getty Images

Good morning, Portland! We're starting off the week with a glorious high of 51 degrees and 19 mph winds. FUN? FUN!

Respecting Our Vets: Donald Trump decided against visiting a French cemetery for World War I soldiers on Veteran's Day because it was raining. He also will not be visiting Arlington National Cemetery today to honor US veterans, a tradition followed by presidents before him. Oh, and this:

(Here's where the national races with still uncounted ballots stand)

California's Burning: Flames from the Woosley and Camp fires have engulfed two huge swaths of California, killing more than 30 people and leaving hundreds homeless (including Miley Cyrus, Neil Young, and Gerard Butler). The fire's forced the town of Thousand Oaks to evacuate just 24 hours after being hit by a horrifying mass shooting. In the words of one resident, "It really can't get much worse." Here's how you can help the fire's victims.

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Blazer's Recap: Baking Boston's Beans

Bruce Ely/Trailblazers.com

It was yet another impressive win at home for the Blazers on Sunday night. They held off a strong comeback bid in the second half and took down the highly regarded Boston Celtics, 100-94. Former Blazers teams might have crumbled under the multi-dimensional attack of the talented Celtics, but not this season. Jusuf Nurkic and Damian Lillard both notched double-doubles and Al-Farouq Aminu hit big shots down the stretch. Lillard and Nurkic seemed especially in sync on this night. Maybe it was because they strolled into pre-game warm-ups together with Lillard's new baby in tow. Team bonding!

Bruce Ely/Trailblazers.com

Like Golden State and the Lakers, the Celtics are one of those teams that attracts a lot of "away" fans to the Moda Center. The place was filled with green jerseys cheering obnoxiously each time Kyrie Erving or Jason Tatum scored. Luckily that didn't happen too often in the first half. The Celtics looked sluggish from their long 10 day road trip while the Blazers seemed cozy and warm, enjoying the final night of a 6 game home stand. I wondered if Evan Turner, who has been having a great season, would be especially motivated to play against his old team. He didn't hit many shots, but played tenacious defense. Here he is "telling Kyrie that he made a great choice with his jersey number."

Bruce Ely/Trailblazers.com
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Things to Do Monday!

Rufus Wainwright, Rachel Eckroth
In an era when feigned lo-fi dominates the zeitgeist and “bedroom pop” has supplanted “indie” as the most spurious and meaningless genre descriptor, listening to Rufus Wainwright is refreshing. The son of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III—two incredibly accomplished musicians in their own right—Rufus was never one to shun his showy predilections. His self-titled 1998 debut, which spent two years in gestation and cost nearly $1 million to record, established Wainwright’s trademark of entwining operatic bombast with Tin Pan Alley tradition. His newer records are also greatin particular, 2012’s Out of the Game, which cheekily acknowledges and revels in its irrelevance. (8 pm, Aladdin Theater, $65, all ages) MORGAN TROPER

Pete Souza
You might be like "Wasn't Pete Souza, amazing photographer and Instagram assassin, just in Portland as part of a book tour?" Well, you're right. He was. But he's got a new book! The last one was focused primarily on images of President Obama, and this one is more about that "Instagram Assassin" thing. Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents is all about juxtaposition. First there's a picture of President Obama doing something, and then? Then there's a picture of the demented, racist, abusive slumlord awkwardly attempting to do anything that resembles basic human behavior. Ergo: shade. Enjoy a new presentation from Souza at this event, and pick up a copy of his book while you're at it. (7:30 pm, Revolution Hall, $40)

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Things to Do Sunday!

Claudio Simonetti's Goblin
Dario Argento’s 1977 horror classic Suspiria wouldn’t be the same without the bone-chilling soundtrack of Italian prog band Goblin. Between those iconic synth melodies, menacingly twinkling bells, percussion that clatters like a ghost at the window and drones like it’s coming from the bowels of hell, ghoulish moans, choirs of heaving sighs, and folksy guitar riffs, Goblin made every moment of Argento’s film feel like a vivid, continuous, and claustrophobic dream. Just in time for the release of Luca Guadagnino’s new Suspiria remake, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin—an offshoot led by founding keyboardist Simonetti—is coming to town to perform their score during a live screening of the original movie. (7 pm, Hawthorne Theatre, $15-25) CIARA DOLAN

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Boston Celtics
The Trail Blazers close out their second home stand of the season with a Sunday night game against Kyrie Irving and the Celtics. (6 pm, Moda Center)

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Portland LitCrawl 2018: We Went to Eight Readings! Here's What We Thought!

Suzette Smith

Last night was perfect weather for a LitCrawl, just cold enough to justify a thermos of tea, but not so cold that literary revelers minded waiting outside a Lit Crawl venue that went over their scheduled 45 minute window. The Portland Book Festival Lit Crawl is a fun pre-PBF tradition that places readings by local and visiting authors within walkable distance of one another and encourages fans to hoof it to more than one location to enjoy free readings, snacks, and drinks. It's a fun time and last night's crawl was well-attended without feeling overwhelming. (At least for me!)

I had a nasty cold so I wrapped myself up in a scarf and tried to avoid hugs/cheek kisses. Since I am but one person, I sought out the help of two members of the The Mercury’s Extremely Literate Strike Force™ who also helped write picks for this year's festival. Together we covered EIGHT READINGS! Our impressions are as follows:

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Things to Do Saturday!

Portland Podcast Festival: Night 2
Portland’s celebration of all things gabby and earbud-y enters its second year, as the Portland Podcast Festival takes over your weekend with conversation, jokes, and more. Lots of great, locally made shows (including the Mercury’s I, Anonymous podcast!) will be doing live tapings, so come out, catch your old favorites, and discover some new ones. Your ears will thank you. (5 pm, Hawthorne Theatre, $20-25) NED LANNAMANN

Portland Book Festival
Formerly known as Wordstock, the Portland Book Festival is now saddled with a stultifyingly boring name—but it’s still crammed with great authors and events, so we’ll allow it. This year’s fest features eight billion booksellers and publishers selling their wares (from Southwest Portland’s Annie Bloom’s Books to San Francisco’s McSweeney’s), plus readings, discussions, lit-centric recordings of OPB’s Think Out Loud and State of Wonder, and appearances from local authors Daniel H. Wilson and Mercury columnist Courtenay Hameister, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!’s Peter Sagal, and literary bigshot Jonathan Lethem. Also in attendance: Tom Hanks, who’ll be talking about his short story collection Uncommon Type with New York Times book critic Parul Sehgal, and Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson, who’ll be onstage with Shrill author Lindy West to discuss Jacobson's new book, I Might Regret This! (9 am, Portland Art Museum, $15-20, all ages) ERIK HENRIKSEN

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New Hip-Hop Alert: Fresh Releases from Raquel Divar, Sxlxmxn, and Vinnie Dewayne

Miss Lopez Media
Raquel Divar and Cory O, "Runners Anthem," (Dir. Tim Slew)
Yesterday rapper/producer duo Raquel Divar and Cory O released a new music video for "Runners Anthem," a highlight off their recent debut EP The Reign. The duo is known for their dark, bass-centric West Coast sound, and their first single "Vandals" had a shadowy video to match. But "Runners Anthem," sees Raquel and Cory O outfitted in more vibrant colors than we usually see them: Raquel sports super-fly yellow kicks and a yellow-striped jacket, while Cory O drives a bright green whip. (Loving the Oregon Ducks vibes, BTW.) There are also other elements of hip-hop being represented here with a group of b-boys and b-girls getting down in a parking garage that's decked out in gorgeous, colorful graffiti. In addition to the spot-on styling, shots of Raquel hanging out the side of a car and spitting her rapid-fire verses is a really good look. The video is directed by Tim Slew, who also did their previous video "Vandals," and it's already racked up more than a thousand views on YouTube.

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