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Before Troye Sivan took pen to paper to write “Revelation,” the love song underscoring Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased, he first aimed to nab an acting role in the film inspired by Garrard Conley’s memoir about surviving gay conversion therapy.
“Music has been so crazy [for me] for the last few years, but it was just about waiting for the film that ticked all of the boxes. It was immediately clear to me that this was the thing that I wanted to do,” says the South Africa-born, Australia-raised performer, who had taken a hiatus from acting after roles in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the Spud trilogy.
Sivan, who just wrapped the North American tour for his latest album, Bloom, auditioned and sent in a self-tape to land the part of Gary, who advises Jared (based on Conley and played by Lucas Hedges) that he doesn’t have to bend to the conversion therapy program’s rules.
“I got to pull from real life a little bit in creating this character,” says Sivan, 23. “We built in this backstory where he’s been living an openly gay lifestyle and ends up being plucked out of that and put into this program. But he keeps his wits and his confidence about him.”
Throughout production, the singer-songwriter made it clear to Edgerton that he would also be more than happy to contribute music to the project. The opportunity arose after the film was wrapped and edited, when Edgerton reached out to Sivan to see about writing lyrics to a piano melody by Jonsi of Sigur Ros. The track would play over the scene where Jared falls asleep holding hands with another boy.
“It’s one of the few moments of relief in the movie, the first time you really get to see him experience any sort of true love,” says Sivan. “The first time you ever hold hands with a boy — those butterflies are really crazy. That moment would be a revelation for him and that person would be a revelation for him.”
Sivan hopes that audiences feel a sense of purity after hearing the song. “I mean, the lyrics, ‘Ever I roam / Further from home / Your hand I know,’ capture that no matter how far I stray from what I was taught as a kid or from what my parents would expect of me, I’ll never forget the experience of sharing that moment with you, where everything was really pure and sweet and OK.”
As someone who identifies as gay and is an advocate for LGBTQ rights, Sivan was drawn to the film largely because of its challenging themes. “[That] was my worst nightmare before I came out, that my parents were not going to accept me and they’d want to fix me,” he says. “Many people are not as lucky as I’ve been in regard to family and friends being supportive, so any opportunity I can get to help change that, I’ll jump at it.”
The timeliness of the film is not lost on Sivan. Gay conversion therapy is still legal in 36 states and the current administration wants to roll back LGBTQ rights. “We felt the weight of it a little bit more than obviously we’d like to,” he says. “It’s so crazy that we had to make this movie in 2018, that the movie does feel timely.”
Although he was “really intimidated” about returning to the screen, Sivan aims to continue to pursue acting alongside his blossoming music career, especially in light of the response the film has received. “The movie is already doing what I hoped it would,” he says. “We’re hearing people’s stories and hearing people sharing their past [experiences] with conversion therapy or if they’re in a tough spot with their family. The movie is serving a purpose in real life.”
This story first appeared in a November stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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