Ben Is Back - Starring Julia Roberta & Lucas Hedgeds

Written and Directed by Peter Hedges

Produced by: Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Teddy Schwarzman, Peter Hedges. Executive produced by: Daniel Steinman, Micah Green, Dan Friedkin, Ben Stillman, Michael Heimler, Jane Evans Mickey, Liddell an Pete Shilaimon.

Ben Is Back Starring - Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Courtney B. Vance and Kathryn Newton

Nineteen-year-old Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) unexpectedly returns home to his family's suburban home on Christmas Eve morning. Ben’s mother, Holly (Julia Roberts), is relieved and welcoming but wary of her son staying clean. Over a turbulent 24 hours, new truths are revealed, and a mother's undying love for her son is tested as she does everything in her power to keep him safe

On Christmas Eve morning, 19-year-old Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) unexpectedly returns to surprise his family at their cozy suburban home. His mother Holly (Julia Roberts) is thrilled to be reunited with her son but wary about his ability to stay clean, while Ben’s distrustful sister Ivy (Kathryn Newton) and common-sense stepfather Neal(Courtney B.Vance) fear he will wreak havoc on their lives as he’s done so many times before. After Ben launches a charm offensive that wins over his young half-siblings, Holly agrees to let him stay for the holiday on one condition: For the next 24 hours, she will personally monitor his every move.That evening the family returns from a church Christmas pageant to find that their house has been ransacked. Worse still, their beloved dog is missing. It’s a message that Ben’s past has caught up with him and old debts must be paid. Heading into the frigid night, Ben and his mother embark on a quest to recover the dog from whichever of Ben’s former associates may have taken him.

Along the way, as he tries to make things right and she learns unsettling truths about her son’s life,Holly does everything in her power to keep Ben safe. A gripping drama fueled by powerful performances from Academy Award®-winning actress Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges, one of the most accomplished young actors working today, Ben Is Back is an intimate look at a mother struggling to protect her son from himself.Ben Is Back stars Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich, August: Osage County), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird),Courtney B.Vance (“American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson,”Isle of Dogs),Kathryn Newton (“Big Little Lies,”Lady Bird) and Michael Esper (“Trust”).The film is written and directed by Peter Hedges(What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, About a Boy,Pieces of April). The director of photography is Stuart Dryburgh (The Piano, “Boardwalk Empire”). Production design is by Ford Wheeler (“The Affair,”Rachel Getting Married). The costume designer is Melissa Toth (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Manchester by the Sea). Music is composed by Dickon Hinchliffe (Winter’s Bone, “Peaky Blinders”). The film is produced by Nina Jacobson,Brad Simpson, Teddy Schwarzman and Peter Hedges.Executive producers are Daniel Steinman, Micah Green, Dan Friedkin, Ben Stillman, Michael Heimler, Jane Evans, Mickey Liddell and Pete Shilaimon.

Julia Roberts, stars as Holly Burns. Jacobson’s team sent Hedges’script to Oscar winner Julia Roberts to gauge her interest in the role of Holly. Roberts responded immediately to the material. “The story was very touching,”says the actress, who received her fourth Academy Award nomination in 2014 for her supporting role in the domestic drama August: Osage County. “Peter’s script really spoke to the myriad ways addiction can impact a family. ”Roberts took time out of a family vacation to meet with Hedges at her home in Malibu. “We had a great meeting,”says the Brooklyn-based filmmaker. “Julia really connected with Holly as this mother who will not give up on her child no matter what. But it’s a big deal for Julia to be away from her kids,so she wanted to discuss the movie with her family before making a commitment.”A few weeks later, Hedges received a text from Roberts saying she had accepted the role.“My heart was pounding I was so excited,”Hedges recalls. “First of all, Julia Roberts has been my favorite movie star for my entire adult life. She’s incredibly smart and passionate, and as I would learn later, she’s also the most prepared actor I’ve ever worked with. One of my hopes is that this film reaches as many people as possible, and Julia Roberts is an actor whom so many people root for. And this part gives her an opportunity to go places emotionally, physically and dramatically as she tries to save her son. So it was an amazing day when she said yes.”

Courtney B. Vance and Julia Roberts in BEN IS BACK

JULIA ROBERTS (Holly) is an Academy Award winner who has appeared in many of Hollywood’s most successful films, worked with some of the industry’s most esteemed directors, and starred in films grossing more than $2.5 billion worldwide. Most recently, Roberts starred in Wonder, alongside Jacob Tremblay and Owen Wilson.For the small screen she stars in the Amazon series “Homecoming,” which streams in November.Roberts first came to the attention of audiences with her critically acclaimed role in Mystic Pizza. Then, with Steel Magnolias, she received her first Academy Award nomination. Her next film, Pretty Woman, was the top-grossing film of 1990 and brought Roberts her second Oscar nomination. In 1997 she starred in the box-office smash My Best Friend’s Wedding and soon thereafter worked alongside Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris in Stepmom.

In 1999 she starred in two box-office hits: Notting Hill and Runaway Bride. Since 2000’s Erin Brockovich, for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress, Roberts has starred in three films by director Steven Soderbergh: Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Full Frontal. In 2010 Roberts starred in Ryan Murphy’s Eat, Pray, Love, based on the bestselling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert. She received Oscar, Golden Globe®, SAG and Critics’ Choice award nominations for her part in August: Osage County(2013). Roberts earned Emmy Award® and SAG nominations for her role in HBO’s “The Normal Heart” (2014).

Mother and Son Bond Despite the frigid conditions, Lucas Hedges and Roberts developed a warm rapport on set. “Julia was just amazing,” says Lucas. “She’s so maternal and caring and humble. I was really shocked that somebody who has spent decades in super stardom could be so grounded and lovely. She was there for me in all of the off-camera moments as well as the on-camera moments.”Roberts cherishes the professional and personal bond the pair formed on set. “Lucas is very special and we grew very close,” says the actress. “He’s just so talented, and such a beautiful available person. There were some challenging scenes, so it was our good fortune to have that true connection.”

Most of the daylight scenes in Ben Is Back were filmed before the production broke for the holidays. In January, filmmakers shot night scenes as the darkness sets in to the story line, both literally and figuratively. Peter Hedges observes that his stars exercised great sensitivity in portraying the increasingly intense mother-son conflict.“There’s so much emotion in the movie, the question becomes, where’s the levity? Where’s the breath? Julia and Lucas can’t be sobbing and screaming in every scene. They both had really smart instincts about when to crack open and when to hold it together:”So looking back, what did Lucas think about having his father as a director? “Sometimes having him around really helped, and sometimes it was annoying,” says the actor, who turned 21 during the shoot.“But even when it was annoying that helped too,because there’s a lot of frustration in the characters’ circumstances. So whether he was giving me a great note or doing something that triggered me just because he’s my dad, it was always something I could use. Don’t get me wrong, he did an amazing job. It’s just natural that sometimes I still feel like a grumpy teenage boy around him.”

Lucas Hedges (Ben) is an Academy Award nominee and one of Hollywood’s most promising young actors. He continues to grow his diverse body of work by collaborating with some of the most respected names in entertainment. Hedges is perhaps best known for his turn opposite Casey Affleck in Kenneth Lonergan’s Academy Award winner Manchester by the Sea.Hedges’ performance was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in addition to Gotham,Critics’Choice and Independent Spirit bids in that category. Hedges won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Young Actor as well as the National Board of Review’s Male Breakthrough Performance of the Year.The actor will next be seen opposite Katherine Waterst on in Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid 90s, the story of a boy growing up in Los Angeles during that point in time. This fall Hedges stars in Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased, which the filmmaker adapted from Garrard Conley’s memoir. The film concerns the son of a Baptist preacher who is forced to participate in a church-supported gay conversion therapy program. Hedges stars alongside Edgerton, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. Hedges was recently seen in two of last year’s Best Picture nominees: Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird, with Saoirse Ronan,and Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,opposite Frances McDormand andSam Rockwell.Previously, Hedges appeared in two films for Wes Anderson: Moonrise Kingdom, co-starring Edward Norton, Bill Murray and Frances McDormand; and The Grand Budapest Hotel, with Ralph Fiennes.

Peter Hedges and Lucas Hedges at an event for Ben Is Back (2018)

In 2013 he worked with Josh Brolin and Kate Winsletin Jason Reitman’s Labor Dayand starred opposite Christoph Waltz in Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem.Hedgeshas also appeared in suchfilms as Michael Cuesta’s Kill the Messenger, opposite Jeremy Renner,and DanteAriola’sArthur Newman, alongside Colin Firth and Emily Blunt.Hedgesis making his Broadway debut alongside Elaine May, Joan Allen and MichaelCera in Kenneth Lonergan’s “The Waverly Gallery,” at the John Golden Theatre. In 2017 hemade his stage debut as the lead in MCC Theater’s Off Broadway production of“Yen,” written by Anna Jordan anddirected by Trip Cullman.The actor currently resides in New YorkCity.

Cast On The Carpet

Julia Roberts and Kathryn Newton at an event for Ben Is Back (2018). Photos by Emma McIntyre

Courtesy of Taro PR and Elevation Pictures

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@2018 by I'm Here With Magazine