Troye Sivan had launched his entertainment career as an actor, but once his music took off over the past few years, he wasn’t sure when he would have time to return to acting. He did know, however, the role that would get him back onscreen would have to be something extraordinary.
“I always said, ‘If something really special comes along, please send it on to me and maybe I’ll audition if I can,'” he recalls of conversations with his agent once he shifted his focus to his two acclaimed albums Blue Neighbourhood and this year’s Bloom. When said agent sent the script for Boy Erased, he knew it was exactly the type of film he wanted to pursue and immediately auditioned.
Directed and written by Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased is an adaptation of Garrard Conley’s autobiographical book of the same name. It follows Jared (Lucas Hedges) — the son of a Baptist pastor (Russell Crowe) and his devout wife (Nicole Kidman) — who is outed as gay to his parents while in college and sent to a conversion therapy camp run by a man named Victor Sykes (Edgerton). Sivan portrays Gary, one of the young men in the camp with Jared who is trying to pray the gay away.
Within days of auditioning, Sivan received a call from Edgerton. “He explained to me that he wanted to rebuild the character from the ground up and figure out the storyline and the backstory,” he recalls, noting that Gary is based off a real person who appeared in Conley’s book. “I was excited to do that with him.”
Together, they gave Gary’s character more depth than before. “We decided that he was this kid who got plucked out of his openly queer life in college and put in the camp,” Sivan explains, adding that’s also why his character has dark roots peeking out from beneath his bleached hair and chipped nail polish. Gary is seen exclusively in the camp, so his backstory is told through what he shares to the rest of the teens and adults there with him. Being apart of the pivotal, emotional scenes set in the stark, cold camp made for an intense bonding experience between Sivan and his co-stars.
“In-between takes and lunch breaks, people were sharing their experiences,” he adds. “Some people had experienced really similar experiences to the characters in the movie. It was really intense and created an environment where we could tell this story the right away.”
Sivan knew from the moment he was cast that he wanted to contribute to the soundtrack as well, but he didn’t exactly know how. Edgerton let him know that Sigur Rós’ Jónsi was contributing to the soundtrack, as well, so Sivan reached out for what turned out to be a “dream collaboration” for the young star. They were sent a particularly tender scene that featured Jared beginning to unlearn what he had been taught about his own identity and began writing the gorgeous piano ballad “Revelation” from there.
“My character is the first voice that Jared hears that tells him there’s an alternative to all of this,” Sivan explains of another way he contributes to the main character’s clarity (though he’s not in the scenes where his new song is heard in the film). “[The scene] we wrote the song to is a super pure, beautiful moment and the sky doesn’t come crashing down on Jared. It’s a revolution and a revelation to him that maybe it isn’t this bad after all.”
His Bloom track “The Good Side,” which he premiered on Saturday Night Live earlier this year, is also in the film, opening up the feature. Sivan had no idea how Edgerton would use either until he attended a screening.
“When I saw the movie for the first time, I was blown away to see that the song was used in these moments of clarity where he gets to relax a bit and let himself go. I feel so proud to be a part of those moments.”
Boy Erased hits theaters on November 2nd, and Sivan is set to wrap his North American tour on November 8th. While he has enough on his plate currently, he’s looking forward to more international touring in support of Bloom and hitting the studio once more. As for more acting, he’s interested in finding more roles to pursue.
“At the moment, dramatic stuff interests me enough,” he says of the roles that interest him. As a teen, he starred in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and a trilogy of South African children’s films titled Spud. “I feel really lucky as a creative because everything keeps taking me by such surprise. I could’ve never predicted that making YouTube videos would’ve gotten me signed to a label or that I would’ve gotten back into acting — or even have gotten into acting in the first place! I’m just enjoying the ride and asking myself what feels exciting to me right now. I’m excited to see where I am in five or ten years. I really have no idea.”