“Boy Erased” director Joel Edgerton on how his definition of masculinity has completely changed


Through his roles in movies like "Warrior," "Exodus: Gods and Kings," and "The Gift," Joel Edgerton has cultivated an image as one of the industry's most reliable tough guys. But in real life, the director, screenwriter, and costar of "Boy Erased," in theaters November 2, has developed a different idea of what true strength looks like.

"I grew up in the eighties, when the bigger your muscles, the bigger a movie star you were," Egerton told SalonTV's Mary Elizabeth Williams on "Salon Talks." "One of the myths about masculinity is that you're not allowed to show your sensitivity. It's the stereotype of the silent father. As a young man I identified with that. I thought strength was silence and stoicism and only speaking when necessary, and that weakness the opposite. Weakness was being open about feelings, about having words to describe what was going on for you internally."

Now, he says, "I realized at too late an age that those definitions should be flipped. Strength should be expression, and weakness is limiting one's expression."

It's that respect for the courage of open expression which drew Edgerton to taking on the film adaptation of Garrad Conley's 2016 memoir of enduring gay conversion therapy as a teenager, "Boy Erased."

"I read his book and became immediately grabbed by what I'd read," Edgerton said. "It emotionally grabbed me, and I found myself thinking about it daily. For all of the despair the characters go through, for all the chaos and confusion, the story has a positive outcome, and the potential to help people in a positive way."

Watch the interview above to learn more about Edgerton's vision as a director on "Boy Erased" and his take why gay conversion therapy is so hard to abolish.

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