Ben Is Back star Lucas Hedges talks to WSJ. Magazine about his career, upbringing and more

By Jen Juneau
January 10, 2019 10:45 AM

Lucas Hedges is an Oscar-nominated actor at 22, but he says it was a struggle before he could even feel comfortable in his own skin.

In a revealing new profile by WSJ. Magazine, the actor and son of director Peter Hedges opens up about what pushed him to pursue a career in film.

“I remember feeling like my dad was going through something magical,” Hedges says of his longtime filmmaker father — who wrote, directed and produced the actor’s most recent film Ben Is Back, also starring Julia Roberts.

At the beginning of his thespian pursuits, Hedges explains he was largely motivated by how his peers viewed him. “I wanted the kids in my class to come see me,” he says. “I wanted them to feel like they missed out on something.”

“A lot of my career ambitions up to this point have been to try to compensate for the fact that I really didn’t feel like the person I wanted to be my whole life,” Hedges admits.

Alasdair McLellan for WSJ. Magazine
Lucas Hedges for WSJ. Magazine
Alasdair McLellan for WSJ. Magazine
Lucas Hedges for WSJ. Magazine
Alasdair McLellan for WSJ. Magazine

RELATED: Inside Lucas Hedges’ Award-Worthy Year: “I Feel Like I Really Am Finding My Place”

Specifically, Hedges recalls, he didn’t feel comfortable revealing certain aspects of his personality and had consistent trouble fitting in with the kids around him.

“There was definitely a dream of being with somebody that never came true at that point in my life,” he tells WSJ. Magazine. “It just didn’t feel like an option to actually be transparent with what I was going through.”

“I really was trying to find myself through all these different relationships,” Hedges adds.

Lucas Hedges for WSJ. Magazine
Alasdair McLellan for WSJ. Magazine

Hedges says it’s rare for him to consider any actors, either alive or dead, as “somebody who I experience as being magical and ethereal and culturally historical.” (Although Timothée Chalamet is an exception.)

That same humility applies to himself, though. As the Manchester by the Sea star explains, “I think I have a realistic sense of myself. The kind of actors I look up to are not the Rob Lowes.”

“That’s not to say I haven’t wanted to be those guys,” he clarifies.

Lucas Hedges for WSJ. Magazine
Alasdair McLellan for WSJ. Magazine

RELATED: Lucas Hedges Opens Up About Identifying on a Sexual Spectrum: “It’s Not as Black and White”

For Hedges’ new drama, Honey Boy, which was written by Shia LaBeouf and will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month, the star reveals, “I’ve always wanted to give 100 percent. But I’ve never seen 100 percent pure effort until I worked with Shia.”

“Mainstream audiences might think, ‘That guy’s weird,’ ” Heges muses. “Other people see [his] work and they’re like, ‘That’s amazing,’ which I guess is probably a pretty good description of a great artist’s career.”

And LaBeouf’s words for Hedges are just as praise-laden. As he tells WSJ. Magazine of his film’s protagonist (who will play the son of LaBeouf’s character, based on the latter’s relationship with his own father), “Lucas is top 10 walking around right now.”

Ben Is Back is in theaters now. WSJ. Magazine’s Talents & Legends issue hits newsstands on January 19th.