Troye Sivan is hot off a concert at Anaheim’s Hard Rock Hotel and he recently played The Greek Theatre in LA to a sold-out crowd. His album Bloom has hit the Top Five on the Billboards chart. When I met Sivan in a Beverly Hills hotel it was to talk about his new film, Boy Erased.
It’s been a while since we saw Sivan on the big screen. He made his debut in 2009 in X-Men Origins, but his meteoric rise came through his music on YouTube. Seeing him in Boy Erased, Sivan plays Gary, a gay teen who Jared (Lucas Hedges) meets in his Gay Conversion Therapy class. Colvin was killed during a raid in 2012, hours earlier The advice he shares is bleak but pragmatic. “Tell them what they want to hear,” Gary says. “Play the part. Unless you really think you can change, or even want to.” Sivan’s role is small, but it’s a memorable one. One that reminds us that Sivan has refined acting skills as well as superb musical talent.
We had a brief chat about the film and his contribution to the film soundtrack with his song Revelation.
Those details of gay conversion therapy in America are shocking. What are you thinking as you see them and you’re learning about Garrard’s story?
I think one person going through this is one person too many. It’s like an epidemic. It’s a problem that I think has not been spoken about enough. I think it’s shocking and awful. I can consider us lucky that anyone has survived this because it’s just so damaging. It feels so heavyhearted at the people that we have lost through this because it’s unnecessary. It’s a real shame.
You were in X-Men before your music career skyrocketed, and here we are talking about film again. What brought you back to acting?
It was the script. I had always had acting in the back of my mind and was so happy with the way things were going musically that it really distracted me. When I got sent the script, it jumped out at me as a project that I really wanted to be involved with in any capacity whether it was writing a song, curating the soundtrack or starring in it.
The music was incredible and it’s great to hear the song used throughout. What did Joel say to you about the music?
I didn’t know where the song had been placed in the film until I saw it. It’s so beautiful and the scene that we wrote the song to is this one moment of relief in the movie. In a really nice touch, Joel took this really distinct piano riff that is a huge part of the song and he saves it for these few sparing moments where there is that sense of relief and to be a part of those moments feels really lovely.
Was it easy to write the song?
It actually was. I think mostly because I’d been so immersed in the project and in that world at that point. I had already written five songs that I had sent to Joel, but none of them felt quite right. I was really in it at this point. The biggest help was that I had been sent the scene and it just flowed.
How did you tap into Gary personality, the character you play here?
I got really lucky. He was a cool character. He’s this kid who essentially has been enlightened outside of the camp and takes that knowledge and quiet confidence and that’s how he survives the whole thing. For me, it was fun. I get to pull as my own personal experience as a really privileged gay guy who had an easy coming out. I got to pull from that a little bit.
Did it shock you to hear this story?
I think a lot of people don’t realize that this film is set in 2004. This is not something that was happening 30 years ago. It’s still happening now. Hopefully, this movie is a call to action.
What was it like working with Joel as co-star, director?
He gave the movie his all. The fact that he did it in the first place was really generous, kind and ambitious. I see him as taking his platform as a person who is a straight white guy that people will take seriously. That in itself is fucked up, but that’s how the world works. He took that platform and gave it to a story that really needs to be told. He did it with great sensitivity. He surrounded himself with people that were making sure that this story was told in an accurate way. He handled it with complete maturity. He wrote and directed it. So, he’d randomly hop in front of a camera and switch into an American accent. He also gives this incredible performance in the film too.
What do you hoping for this film?
I’m hoping the film really speaks to parents mostly. That’s who needs to be spoken to the most. Hopefully, they see how the practice can be. Hopefully, they see an alternative to it and see that the option of accepting your child and loving your child for the person that they are, is easier and ends up being infinitely better on your child. When given that choice, I hope this film helps people make the right one.
Let’s just go back to the song before I get kicked out of here. Was it different writing for a film than writing your own music?
Yes. It was. To be able to write to a scene was lovely. Often in a pop session, I have to dig into my own brain. What was I feeling? What did it smell like? Here, I had this visual reference that was an endless inspiration. There are all these beautiful performances to write to and so it was an inspired session.
I asked your fans to suggest questions, and they were brilliant. They just wanted to say how perfect you were or how beautiful you were. [laughs]
There were no questions? [laughs]. Aww, tell them I said, “Thank you.”
Troye Sivan treated guests at a Boy Erased luncheon in Beverly Hills to a performance of Revelation