Troye Sivan on 'Boy Erased' and Cuddles From Nicole Kidman (Exclusive)
By John Boone
Photo by Rich Fury/FilmMagic
"We're going to do something, like, pretty special right now for you guys," Troye Sivan announced to the crowd at Los Angeles' Greek Theatre during one of the final stops on his Bloom Tour. "Basically, I'm in a movie that comes out this Friday," he explained. "It's called Boy Erased. It's based off a true story, it's based off a memoir by a man called Garrard Conley, and Garrard, upon coming out to his parents as gay, was kind of coaxed into going to a gay conversion therapy camp where they were going to try to turn him straight."
To that last line, the crowd, who Sivan had previous declared "90 percent gay," jeered loudly. "Is that a boo?" the singer, 23, grinned. "Love it." Sivan shares the track "Revelation" with Jónsi of the Icelandic group Sigur Rós, and this night was only his second time performing it live. He grasped the microphone as he sang the opening verse, then lifted his hands to the sky and swayed, rhythmically rocking his hips from side to side, during the chorus: "It's a revelation / There's no hell in what I found."
Joel Edgerton co-adapted Conley's memoir and directed Boy Erased, which stars Lucas Hedges as Jared Eamons, who is entered into a conversion therapy program by his Baptist minister father and mother (Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman). Sivan, forgoing his Australian accent, plays one of the young men in the program. Ahead of his L.A. show, he spoke to ET about how his parents reacted to the film, and the possibility of being Oscar-nominated for "Revelation" opposite Lady Gaga. (Coincidentally, The Greek is where Gaga's character first sings "Shallow" in A Star Is Born, and Mark Ronson, who co-wrote that track, was in attendance for Sivan's show.)
ET: How are you? How are you balancing promoting this movie while being on tour?
Troye Sivan: It has been interesting. It's a real gear change. Like, last night I was onstage in Anaheim and then this morning I'm here, you know, talking about the movie and going to this Q&A later with Joel and Nicole. It feels like I'm Hannah Montana or something. But it's cool.
Thankfully, it's not like the movie and the messages in your music and the experience of your show aren't polar opposites that you're having to disassociate one from the other.
No, it actually gives me a real sense of perspective. This sort of happened when we were filming the movie, as well. I was almost done with my album, and I went and filmed the movie and had this real weight on my chest from a kind of heavy experience of filming the movie. And I went back to what I would call my real life of recording this music -- which is, like, the gayest thing in the world -- and I just felt so lucky. I feel like my life is full of such light from my audience and the shows are filled with such light, that it's been really nice. It keeps you sane and reminds me why we're doing all this in the first place.
And there are certainly worse ways to spend your afternoon than with Nicole Kidman.
Exactly. Exactly. I'm not complaining at all.
You've acted before, but just from an outsider's perspective, it seems like you've been focused on your music these past few years, instead of filming movies or going out for acting work. Is that the case?
That's totally the case. Like you said, I did some acting when I was younger, but it was never really my main gig. I always have fallen back on music as my main passion and music, thankfully, was keeping me really busy and keeping me stimulated and excited. So, acting was kind of on the back burner. But the conversation with any of my agents or anything like that was always, "If the right thing comes around, please send it to me and I'll have a look."
Is that how this came to you?
It came from CAA, from an agency. As soon as they sent it to me I was like, "I really want to audition for this." So, this was actually the first thing that I've auditioned for in probably, like, three or four years.
Your biggest acting credit to date -- at least, what people mention when they talk about you acting -- is X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which you were in when you were younger. I have to assume this movie means something different to you, because of the subject matter and that you've become a powerful voice in the gay community.
Totally. I mean, obviously, X-Men was really cool. [Laughs.] I was a 13-year-old boy, or whatever I was. But this movie, in a weird way, it felt like it made perfect sense, but also it felt completely surprising and exciting and, like, it would push me. I hadn't acted in a long time. It's got this really incredible cast. I just was so excited by the thought of making this a reality and am really, really thankful that it all ended up working out.
I know Garrard was greatly involved with the project, but you must have been a valuable resource for Joel and Lucas, as well. Did you have conversations with them about your experiences coming out and about being a gay man?
We did, yes, to a certain extent. Those conversations were happening 24/7 onset, that was the really important thing that we all knew, was the only way to really tell this story accurately was to ask as many questions as we possibly could. And among the cast and the crew, everyone was kind of sharing their experiences, and Joel had really done his due diligence and done his research and I think it shows.
Was conversion therapy something you knew a lot about before this, or was this project a learning experience in that sense?
Both, yeah. I knew that conversion therapy existed and I knew about Love in Action, actually, which is sort of the really, really big one. But I learned a lot through my research for the film, and now, as well, through promoting it and working with The Trevor Project and GLAAD. And Garrard, the author of the book, has made a podcast called UnErased that's in collaboration with Radiolab that's gonna be coming out and that has been super helpful. It's been really enlightening to be on this journey with everyone.
I'm looking forward to that podcast. The first time I saw the movie was at TIFF, and Garrard came out after the screening for a Q&A, and then he brought his mom [Martha] out and that was too much for me. I started sobbing.
No, literally, I was there as well. That moment was, like-- That was special. Also, that was his mom's first time seeing the movie, and Nicole Kidman was giving her a back rub the entire time. It was pretty special.
Did you have a chance to speak with Martha afterward, about what she thought of the movie?
Yeah, I spoke to her plenty about it. You know, one of my favorite things about this movie is there's no villain, really. It's just like figuring stuff out. And his mom, you know, the person who originally has a part in sending him off to this camp, she sort of becomes like the hero of the film. I think that that's such a valuable lesson for everyone, is you can learn and you can grow and you can change and it's not too late to make things right with your LGBTQ loved ones. She's living proof of that. It was really, really inspiring to be around her. She's also just sweet as pie.
When was your first time seeing the movie?
What was that experience like? What was your reaction to seeing it?
It was crazy. I was really, really nervous and then left feeling elated and just such relief. In my opinion, we totally did the story justice and told it in the right way and I was happy with my performance. It all kind of hit me, with the song being in the movie -- that was my first time seeing where the song was placed in the film -- and seeing Nicole's performance and Lucas' performance and Russell's performance and Joel's performance. It all just hit me all at once. It was a nice moment.
No back rub from Nicole Kidman, though?
No, but she did give me some cuddles onstage, which was really nice.
Have your parents had a chance to see it yet?
Yes. My parents saw it for the first time the other day. They really loved it. My mom, like, cried a lot.
Were you with them when they saw it, or did you get the phone call afterward?
They went to the screening, and then I came in to do a Q&A afterwards. So I wasn't sitting with them while they watched it, but I saw them immediately afterwards.
Did they ask any questions during the Q&A?
My dad actually did. He stood up, and it wasn't really a question, it was just a comment. He just said how much he loved the movie and then also, he stressed that he wishes that kids wouldn't put so much weight in what their parents say. My dad always did a great job of letting us know what he thought but also let us kind of be free thinkers. And to see, I think, Jared onscreen put so much weight and pressure on himself based off what his parents thought of him, my dad just basically expressed that he wished that that wasn't the case. It was really sweet.
Your dad sounds like a wonderful man.
Yeah, he's good!
You have this beautiful song in the movie. Was that always the intention from when you signed on? Or at what point in the process did you talk to Joel about writing and recording this track?
It was always my intention. I don't know if it was his. [Laughs.] But I had mentioned it from day one, basically. As soon as I found out that I had got the part, I was like, "Also, if you guys need any music at all, I would love to be a part of that." So, I pushed and pushed and pushed and I wrote about, like, six songs for the movie, all in all. "Revelation" ended up being the right one.
Would you ever release those other tracks?
I don't think so. They're really, really specific. I wrote them specifically about the movie and about the script. They don't really speak to my personal experience, so it feels kind of weird to release them out of that context.
Speaking of taking music out of the context of the movie, what has it been like performing "Revelation" on tour?
It's been really incredible. I've only performed it once so far and that was in New York. We premiered the song there, the song hadn't been heard yet. It feels like a real collision of worlds and it was a very, very proud moment for me.
I'm sure by now people are starting to tell you that "Revelation" will be in the mix for Best Original Song at next year's Oscars, which would mean you'd likely be going against Lady Gaga. What is that like to hear?
I mean, honestly, with that kind of stuff, my approach is to just not think about it at all. It's one of those things that's out of my control completely, so I just try and do my best work and then see what happens. But, I mean, if I am up against Lady Gaga for anything, ever, I feel like that is as great of an honor as an Oscar would be.