It was a shocking deception and one of the most significant literary hoaxes of the century. The short version of the true-life story: A troubled author (Laura Albert) masqueraded as a fictional teenage boy from a broken home and got the sister of her boyfriend, to appear as said novelist in public appearances. In some circles, the name JT LeRoy was ubiquitous, especially when the true identity was revealed and the media controversy exploded.
The shocking narrative of infamous literary figure JT LeRoy is one at least the savvy, culturally-aware public is intimately familiar with not only through the author’s works and their subsequent revelations, but the various cinematic treatments. The first version of this story was told through Asia Argento’s lurid “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things,” which generated even more controversy due to Argento’s sexual assault allegations last year. Then there was the 2016 documentary, “Author: The JT Leroy Story,” which unveiled and broadened the scope and cultural impact surrounding this literary swindle. Both of these works contributed to the myth of JT LeRoy, as it was built by author Laura Albert, the main subject of the aforementioned documentary. However, the most intriguing aspect surrounding this whole story is the face Albert applied to her made-up character/author: Savannah Knoop, her boyfriend’s younger sister at the time who became the in-public figure that ended up hobnobbing with the likes of Bono, Courtney Love, Billy Corgan, Marilyn Manson and all the cultural giants who were obsessed with JT Leroy’s story at the time before the unmasking.
Now, with director Justin Kelly (“I Am Michael,” “King Cobra,” “Welcome The Stranger”) at the helm— a protégé of Gus Van Sant— we will get the perspective of Savannah Knoop. This biopic, cast well with Kristen Stewart as Knoop and Laura Dern as Albert, is based on Knoop’s book, Girl Boy Girl, and also gives her a screenplay credit beside Justin Kelly. Kelly has delivered films before that tackle psychological and sexual identity, but none of them have yet to be a hit. With the cultural significance and star power surrounding this project, “Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy” could be a worthy addition to an ongoing, intriguing, modern myth.
The concise synopsis is:
A young woman named Savannah Knoop (Kristen Stewart) spends six years pretending to be the celebrated author and cult status character JT LeRoy, the made-up literary persona of her sister-in-law (Laura Dern).
“Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy” had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year (our review) and it arrives in theaters, on demand & digital, April 26. Watch the trailer below.