Lucas Hedges on Wearing Nail Polish and How “Boy Erased” Taught Him About Standing Up for Himself

The actor opens up about challenging gender norms to "GQ."

From Lady Bird to his Oscar-nominated role in Manchester By The Sea, Lucas Hedges is no stranger to portraying characters living through their challenging and stressful adolescent years. But in a new interview with GQ, Hedges says it was his character in Boy Erased, Jared, a 19-year-old forced into conversion therapy, who taught him about “conviction.”

Boy Erased/Focus Features

“The reason I wanted to do Boy Erased is because it’s about challenging the world around us and challenging the boundaries that they put on us,” Hedges says. “Whether that’s something as small as putting nail polish on your fingernails or the bigger freedom to express yourself sexually. It was a movie that taught me a lot about conviction and standing up for myself.”

The actor, who also starred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reveals that while his past roles have been “emotionally draining,” they’ve also helped him through his own transition to adulthoold and to challenge the traditional views on what it means to be a man.

“…vulnerability can be at the centerpiece of what masculinity is in its most beautiful moments,” he says. “That is really exciting.”

Hedges recently addressed his sexuality in an interview with Vulture saying he doesn’t claim a label, but acknowledges he fits on a spectrum.

“In the early stages of my life, some of the people I was most infatuated with were my closest male friends,” he said. “That was the case through high school, and I think I was always aware that while for the most part I was attracted to women, I existed on a spectrum. I recognize myself as existing on that spectrum: Not totally straight, but also not gay and not necessarily bisexual.”

Directed by Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased is based on Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name. Hedges stars as the son of a Baptist pastor (Russell Crowe) who sends him to a California-based Christian ex-gay program. Nicole Kidman and Troye Sivan also star.

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie and pop diva addict living in Manhattan. Follow him on everything @dirrtykingofpop.