Troye Sivan is a regular at the top of the music charts, with catchy beats and a dream-like voice that sets him apart from the pack. Yet acting is now becoming a feature of his considerable arsenal; it's a skill he displayed last year in the moving drama Boy Erased. Written and directed by Joel Edgerton, the film follows a conservative, religious family who forces their son into a harmful conversion therapy program, and must deal with the effects it has on him and their unit. Sivan plays Gary; his refusal to let the program brainwash or shame him about his sexuality helps Lucas Hedges's Jared strengthen his resolve to do the same. In W's Best Performances issue, Sivan reflects on practicing his American accent in Ubers, his YouTube beginnings, and why playing a young Hugh Jackman meant he could also proudly claim the title of "the young version of the Sexiest Man Alive. "
How did Boy Erased come to you?
I got sent the script in an email one day, and blasted through it in an hour or two. I couldn't stop thinking about it for a few days, so I auditioned.
Were you familiar with gay conversion therapy?
I was, but at the same time I thought that movie was a period piece. I thought it was set in the '90s or something, and found out that it was set in 2004. I found out after that conversion therapy is still really prevalent in 2018. That fired me up to try and do something about it.
Your part in the movie is so meaningful and powerful. Did you have a lot of rehearsal?
My main scene features me and Lucas Hedges, who played Jared. It sort of pivots his trajectory. We filmed it once, and then came back a few months later to do re-shoots and Joel Edgerton had written the scene out to be, like, double as long. I guess he really just liked the moment, so I was really excited about that.
There are so many Australians in the movie.
[Laughs.] This was the worst movie in the world to do an American accent on, 'cause everyone was Australian, pretty much. In between takes, Joel would do this weird switch where he would be talking in his Southern U.S. accent and then start giving me directions in this half-Australian thing, and then switch back. It was pretty confusing.
Did you work with a dialect coach, or did you just practice?
I worked with the most amazing dialect coach and then practiced in a lot of Ubers. I would try and get through the entire ride in an American accent, and then at the end I would always be like, "Haha, did you know that I'm Australian?" Most of the time it was a no, so that was good.
Was it hard to go in and out of your accent?
I tried to stay in accent-character for most of the time that I was on set, but it's really embarrassing. Once you've outed yourself as an Australian, it's hard to have a conversation with someone that you respect, putting on this weird accent.
Music is your main thing, but was acting also part of your ambition, as a kid?
I sort of fell into acting. I used to post YouTube videos of me singing online, and a manager found them when I was 12 or 13. He was a theatrical manager, and was like, "I really don't know anything about the music space, have you ever considered acting?" I had done some musical theater stuff; I was Oliver in Oliver Twist. And then I also did Waiting for Godot. So I told him that, and the first audition that he sent to me was for X-Men Origins: Wolverine to play the role of young Wolverine. I ended up getting the part. So I was like, "Oh, I guess I'm getting into acting now." I had such a good time that it made me realize that being creative in any sort of form scratched the same itch as music.
What was the very first thing you auditioned for that you got? Was that X-Men?
Yeah. It was such a crazy awakening for me. First time on camera really, first time acting, first time really kind of getting a taste of anything beyond Perth, Australia, where I grew up. I got to fly to Sydney to film, and it was a really big moment for me.
And you got to meet Hugh Jackman.
He was so nice. And at the time he was the sexiest man alive, according to People, and so I was like, "Oh my god, I am the young version of the sexiest man alive." I claimed that so hard at school.
What was your first red carpet outfit?
It was a gray suit that was really soft and plushy. It was not super cute in hindsight.
Have you always been fashion-forward?
I was really scared of fashion for a really long time. I didn't really grow up feeling like a, a cool kid so I never gave myself the right to dress the way that I wanted to dress. It's been a journey to try and push myself, and realize that I really do love fashion. It feels creative like anything else creative I would do. I really enjoy it.
What was the first album you ever bought?
It’s so lame. The first album I ever bought was Elephunk by The Black Eyed Peas. It was cool at the time.
You never went through a heavy metal phase?
I don't think I ever will go through a heavy metal phase. I don't think that's on the cards for me.
What was the first YouTube video that you posted?
A cover of this girl, Lisa Lavie. The thing that I really fell in love with about YouTube was the ownership of my own path and destiny. I really loved the idea of being able to make whatever I wanted and put it out whenever I wanted. It gives you the freedom to learn what works and what doesn't work and what you wanna achieve in life, and what feels good and what doesn't feel good. That line of communication, I've always kept. I still really cherish, deeply, the relationship that I have with my community online.
Who was your cinematic crush, either now or then, or whenever?
On TV there was this, there was this boy on Degrassi that was so cute. He had curly hair, and brown eyes, brown hair. Very my vibe.
It wasn't Drake, was it?
No, it wasn't Drake. [Laughs.] I don't remember his name, actually. Him and the kid who played the Karate Kid.
Maybe? Probably. But when he was younger. I was also really, really young, so it was fine.
What was your favorite birthday?
For my birthday this last year, my boyfriend organized a camping trip with my two best friends from Australia. We'd been friends since we were, like, two, and we went to Catalina Island. It was really, really fun. Super out of all of our comfort zones, so we were just laughing the whole time. It was a good time.
And you were on the beach, camping?
Yep, on the beach. There were bugs, but we had a pretty ballin' tent.