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Joel Edgerton was nervous to meet gay conversion therapist for film role

The actor met John Smid ahead of filming Boy Erased.


Joel Edgerton met former minister John Smid for a role (Ian West/PA)

Joel Edgerton met former minister John Smid for a role (Ian West/PA)

Joel Edgerton met former minister John Smid for a role (Ian West/PA)

Joel Edgerton has revealed he was nervous to meet the former minister and gay conversion therapist his latest film role is based on.

The actor wrote, directed and starred in Boy Erased, a film about a teenage son of Christian parents forced to undertake conversion therapy.

Based on the memoir of Garrard Conley, it follows his time under the direction of minister John Smid.

In the film Edgerton plays Viktor Sykes, a character based on Smid, who is the leader of the conversion group Love In Action.

The Australian actor said: “I was a little nervous to meet him, to be honest, because I knew that I was going to tell him things about what I wanted to do with the movie, depict things.

“It wasn’t so much about asking his permission, but I also didn’t want him to be in opposition to us.”

Smid went on to renounce his practice, and returned to the homosexual life he had lived prior to working as a therapist.

Edgerton has said that he did not want to portray the community which pressured young men into such treatments as villainous.

He said: “I think the wrong thing for me to do would have been to dress them all in black and have them twirling their moustaches, because they’re human beings too, they just got, I think, the wrong point of view and the wrong information.

“John is married to a man, living in Texas – I believe he’s turned his back on conversion therapy.

“He was very happy to share with me his opinions of things now, but also, as much as he could remember, about what he did then, and he’s trying his best to make amends.”

Boy Erased also stars Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe as the parents of the young man, played by Lucas Hedges, who was pressured to undergo conversion therapy.

Boy Erased is released in cinemas on Friday, February 8.

PA Media