Spoiler alert: “Joe Bell” is based on a true story. The story below contains details that reveal the ending of the film.
If you were in the right place at the right time—in this case, on a deserted highway in the middle—you might have heard Mark Wahlberg belt out loud to Lady Gaga’s queer anthem “Born This Way.”
Off-key and half-shouting “Don’t hide yourself in regret / Just love yourself and you’re ready,” she is, of course, starring as the titular character in “Joe Bell” (in theaters Friday). Had been. “I would have listened to that song, and only that song, for maybe two months,” Wahlberg says on a Zoom call from Los Angeles.
film based on a true story, Following Joe’s trek across the country beginning in the spring of 2013—from La Grande, Oregon, en route to New York—to teach the message of tolerance and the harmful effects of bullying to anyone, From bar customers to auditoriums. People, as a way of honoring his 15-year-old gay son Jadine (Reed Miller).
gaga-infected The film also features son Jadeen onscreen in a scene of less than 15 minutes. Sadly, this is one of the film’s few lighter moments: the audience later learns that Jadine died by suicide after the bullying attack unfolded in the flashback. The magicians we meet on the highway are just Joe’s vision.
Wahlberg, 50, says the bittersweet moment lets Joe imagine what life might have looked like if he had been a better father and fully supported his son when he came out.
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Wahlberg learned to ‘be a little softer’ with his kids
Wahlberg – a father of four – felt compelled to make the film.
“The one who is learning ‘Oh my god, I’m as responsible as these kids who were bullying my son, because I didn’t love him the way he needed me and the way he needed me’ I didn’t support him.” It was obviously very disastrous,” Wahlberg says.
The actor has four children with his wife of almost 12 years, model Rhea Durham: Ella, 17; Michael, 15; Brendan, 12; and Grace, 11.
Making the film challenged Wahlberg’s parenting skills. “I was more strict with my kids, and I think after making this movie, I said, ‘Okay, okay, let me work out a little bit.’ The best way to keep them completely open to me and communicating with me about everything is to be a little softer.”
Wahlberg says she has talked about the topic of bullying with her children, and how important it is to “always stand up for someone else and be an example.”
Miller, 21, who plays Wahlberg’s son, was bullied himself growing up in a small Texas town. His art aspirations did not fit the traditional mold of playing football or other sports. Even in a supportive home, bullying took its painful toll.
“If people don’t know you, and they’re too young or too uneducated or too inexperienced to understand how powerful words can be, they’ll just say mean things,” he says. “It was a huge connecting point with me and Jadine, knowing that I had at least the experience of knowing what it’s like to feel alone, to feel neglected by those around me.”
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The Real Joe Bell: ‘A Complicated Man’
Wahlberg thinks thoughtfully but carefully of the real Joe Bell, who had just made his way to Colorado in October 2013 before a truck hit him badly on the highway, tragically shortening his trek. . The actor calls Joe “a complicated guy”.
“He thought he was doing everything he could and should do to protect his family,” Wahlberg says. “He thought he really grew out because he was abused as a kid. And he thought, ‘Okay, okay, I don’t kill my kids. So I’m already doing better.’ Am.’ But he didn’t really understand the importance of embracing Jadin to really accept who he was.”
Wahlberg hopes that Joe’s message resonates through the film. “Hopefully, this will touch a lot of people like Joe that he was going to talk about across the country,” Wahlberg says.
Miller encourages others to check on the people they care about. Ask friends and family to really see how they’re doing.
“It can completely change someone’s day, and essentially help the course of their life, knowing they have someone like you who can lean on,” he says.
And when in doubt, channel “Born This Way”.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night, or chat online. Crisis Text Line provides free, 247, confidential assistance via text message to people in distress when they dial 741741.
The Trevor Project helps LGBTQ+ people struggling with suicidal thoughts at 866-488-7386 or text 678-678.
The LGBT National Help Center can be contacted at the national hotline at 1-888-843-4564.
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