Why Lucas Hedges Is Happy to Be Out of a Job: "My Slate Is Empty"

Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges - Getty - H 2019
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for WSJ. Magazine

He's been working nonstop for three years — ever since he earned an Oscar nomination for Manchester by the Sea, quit college and became a full-time actor. Now, after appearing in such films as Lady Bird; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriBoy Erased; Mid90sBen Is Back and on Broadway in the just-closed Kenneth Lonergan play The Waverly Gallery — 22-year-old Lucas Hedges is out of a job.

For the first time. And he's fine with that.

"I've got nothing scheduled — my slate is empty — forever, actually" he told THR during WSJ. Magazine's Talents and Legends dinner Jan. 28 at Mr. Chow. "I'm going to visit my girlfriend [actress Taylor Russell, his co-star in the upcoming indie Waves] and then take a family trip. I'm going to look at my life and my relationships outside of work-related environments, and that feels really important to me right now."

Also pretty important: Hedges' Ben Is Back onscreen mom, Julia Roberts, gave her name to WSJ. Magazine’s invite as co-host and made the trek from her home in Malibu to the 90210 because that’s how much she adores him. “I don’t go out a lot and [when I do] it does have to be important to me and mean something to me. Lucas absolutely does,” Roberts told THR, adding that she’s sure they will probably work together again someday. “I love Lucas Hedges and I believe in him.”

This free period is the first Hedges has had since his career caught fire following his best supporting actor nomination for his work opposite Casey Affleck in Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. He dropped out of college (University of North Carolina School of the Arts) and has been working at a fever pitch ever since, leading to a schedule that has forced him to miss high-profile film festivals to support his recent films. He admitted to being heartbroken that he couldn’t attend Sundance last month to support his work in Alma Har’el’s Honey Boy opposite Shia LaBeouf, though he kept in touch via text with LaBeouf and the director while they were in Park City.

As for what he does want to do when he’s ready to sign on to a new project, Hedges was quick to the draw. “A comedy would be great,” but, really, who knows. “My taste is very mysterious. I don’t know what I want to do until I see it. I don’t have a map in my head, just a vague sense of what excites me. I’m willing to be surprised.”

A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.