Denizet-Lewis' article becoming film

By Erin Connolly ’15
April 15, 2014

BenoitAssistant Professor Benoit Denizet-Lewis’s 2011 New York Times Magazine article, “My Ex-Gay Friend,” is becoming a movie starring James Franco.

Gus van Sant, director of Good Will Hunting and Milk, is producing the film. Denizet-Lewis is also a producer.

Denizet-Lewis’s article about his “ex-gay” friend, Michael Glatze, who transformed from a champion of gay rights activism to a vocal critic denouncing homosexuality, quickly caught the attention of Franco.

Soon, Denizet-Lewis, of Emerson’s Writing, Literature and Publishing Department, opened his inbox to find an email from Franco asking if the rights were still available to turn the article into a movie.

“I thought it was sort of a perfect role for James,” Denizet-Lewis said. “He’s very interested in nuances of sexuality. I wasn’t surprised that he would be interested in playing someone like Michael who has this strange and fascinating trajectory of being gay and a leader of the gay movement and deciding he was no longer gay.”

Denizet-Lewis says the screenwriter and director for the film, Justin Kelly, has been working closely with him.

“He’s been asking me throughout the process all these very detailed questions about what our office was like, the different personalities,” he said. “He wants to represent it accurately.”

He is especially looking forward to seeing his own character play out in the film.

“When you’ve lived through something in your life and it gets put on the big screen, that’s a first for me,” he said. “So I’m interested in how they’ll represent this period of my life.”

His advice to student writers and journalists is to take the time to get to know a person on a deeper level.

“For me, the key for writing about people is to really spend as much time as possible with them so that you have more than just a superficial kneejerk reaction that may come from your own preconceptions or political world view,” he said. “People are complicated. They have many layers and many facades.”

Production for the film is scheduled for July. 

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