Out and About
“JT LeRoy” chronicles the true story of a literary scandal – in theatres May 3, 2019
JT LeRoy is based on Savannah Knoop’s memoir Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT LeRoy, this captivating true story goes beyond the headlines to tell the story of the most compelling literary scandal of our generation.
Laura Albert (Laura Dern) writes as her “avatar,” a disenfranchised young queer man named Jeremiah “Terminator”(JT) LeRoy. When her debut novel becomes a best-seller and JT becomes the darling of the literary world, she comes up with a unique solution to preserve her anonymity but give life to her nom-de-plume.
Enter her boyfriend Geoffrey’s (Jim Sturgess) androgynous sister Savannah Knoop (Kristen Stewart), who connects with Laura’s punk, feminist, outsider universe and agrees to be JT in the public eye. Together, they embark on a wild ride of double lives, infiltrating the Hollywood and literary elite, and discovering who they are while pretending to be someone else.
Previously shown here in Toronto as TIFF’s Closing Night Gala Selection, the film now gets released in Canadian theatres beginning May 3rd, 2019. Filmed in Winnipeg, written and directed by Justin Kelly (I Am Michael, King Cobra), and based on the book “Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT Leroy” by Savannah Knoop, the film showcases the dream casting of Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria, Personal Shopper) and Laura Dern (“Big Little Lies,” Certain Women).
A former protégé of Gus Van Sant’s, Justin Kelly graduated from music videos to directing the acclaimed independent films I Am Michael and Welcome the Stranger.
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT, Justin Kelly
I read JT LeRoy’s novel, Sarah, upon its release in 2000. I loved his writing but I was far more interested in his character—an androgynous wunderkind, he maintained an air of mystery, secrecy, and Warholian intrigue. I lived in San Francisco at the height of his notoriety so when the news broke in 2006 that JTwas a fictional character brought to life by two women I was shocked, confused, and wildly fascinated… how did they pullthis off? And, why? I am drawn to stories about people whose desire to shift their identity manifests in ways you wouldn’t imagine, and my own work often deals with the extremes that characters are willing to endure in order to be, or be perceived as, someone else, so when I read Savannah Knoop’s memoir Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT LeRoy, I was beyond drawn to this story about finding oneself while pretending to be someone else. In fact, while writing the script I kept thinking of Pinky (Sissy Spacek) in Robert Altman’s 3 Women— a character who is unable to grow into her complete self until she’s lived the experience of being someone else. The body of JT,Savannah Knoop (Kristen Stewart) and the writer of his books, Laura Albert (Laura Dern), were quickly written off as “two women who wanted fame and money,” when their story is in fact far more complicated and… strange. I strive to tell stories about controversial characters without judgement and I believe that even those who felt betrayed will come away from this film with an understanding of why a “one time thing” turned into a years-long wild ride of leading doublelives. Although it’s been 18 years since the publication of JT’s best-selling novel Sarah and 12 years since his world-wide fan base learned that, as the New York Times wrote, “he’s a she,” this story feels even more relevant now than ever—it’s about the power of belief,the cult of personality,the fluidity of self, and the desire to belong
The film is now playing across the United States, and opens May 3rd in select Canadian cities.
May 3rd – Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton
May 17th – Vancouver
June 28th – Ottawa
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.