Joel Edgerton on Directing Nicole Kidman in ‘Boy Erased’


“She said, ‘No, you should tell me things still, I want people to direct me.’” – Joel Edgerton

Director/Actor Joel Edgerton performed both roles in Boy Erased, a film about a young man forced to undergo gay conversion therapy. Edgerton starred with and directed Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman in the film. Speaking with Australia’s, Edgerton talked about initially not thinking he needed to give Kidman direction, and why she told him that he should.

On working with Kidman, Edgerton admits that he didn’t know how to direct her at first and didn’t think he needed to based to her strong performances — until she told him otherwise. Edgerton explains:

“I remember one day thinking, ‘Nicole probably thinks I’m terrible because I don’t say anything to her.’ And so I said to her, ‘I just want you to know that if I’m not saying anything to you in-between takes it’s just because what you do always hits the center of the dartboard. I don’t want you to think that I don’t have anything to say to you.’ And she said, ‘No, you should tell me things still, I want people to direct me.’

“It said a lot about demystifying Hollywood movie stars, like they’ve got it covered and you shouldn’t direct them.”

“So then I found myself throwing Nicole these cryptic directions … and it would always just shift her performance in a little way and I just loved that relationship with her to be able to throw ideas in her head.”

Edgerton would go on to explain that Kidman was delightful to work with on set and didn’t display behavior typically associated with Hollywood stars. He reveals, “Nicole doesn’t disappear to her trailer and waste time. She would just sit on the set on a shitty couch in a weird, backward hotel and wait for the next shot and would laugh at my jokes. Nicole made me feel like I was the funniest guy in the world.”

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