Peter Hedges is a crier.
He cries during interviews; he cries on set of the movies he’s directing; he cries when he is joyful, and he cries when he cannot find the words to express how he’s feeling. Monday night at the AMC Loews movie theater in Lincoln Square, where his latest film “Ben Is Back” premiered, was no exception. While introducing the movie, which stars Julia Roberts and his son Lucas Hedges, he got choked up while Roberts and costar Courtney B. Vance whooped and catcalled from the front row of the theater.
Prior to the screening, Roberts agreed that Peter Hedges crying wasn’t a bad thing, though.
“He is emotional and intelligent,” she said, nodding. “He cries a lot at work, Peter. He’s probably somewhere crying right now.”
“Ben Is Back” concerns a family dealing with a son who is addicted to opioids, and is in rehab — but shows up at home the day before Christmas. The story is one Peter Hedges is familiar with, because his mother was an addict when he was young. He even attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with her as a teen.
He said he hopes his movie accurately reflects the intricacies all families navigate when dealing with addiction.
“I hope that other families will recognize, who’ve been through it,” the elder Hedges said. “Every family’s different, and yet every family affected by this is kind of the same. I watched how a family all bends itself into pretzels — all the lies and all the deceit and all the hope, and all the effort I made as a young boy to try to get my mother to stop drinking.”
“This is such a personal story [for Peter],” Vance, who plays Roberts’ husband in the film, said. “He wears his heart on his sleeve about it.”
Following the premiere, guests including Zosia Mamet and costars Mia Fowler, Jakari Fraser, Rachel Bay Jones and David Zaldivar made their way to Lincoln Ristorante for the after party. Roberts didn’t stay for the screening, but came to the restaurant, where a friend kissed her cheek and congratulated her on the movie.
“I’ve seen it twice,” she said.
For all the comparisons being made about Lucas and Peter Hedges, the 21-year-old is unlike his father in one way: He doesn’t shed as many tears. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Lucas Hedges stated he was growing weary of playing sad or depressed characters. He’s not sure the specific role he’d like to fill next, he said, but he does know the world he’d love to play it in.
“I really want to do a sci-fi movie, in space. Also, a baseball movie would be fun,” he said. “For some reason, I’m really romantic about those two genres in film. There’s something that feels magical about them.
“I don’t have [anything] specific in mind. Something playful, though, I think.”
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