A trailer dropped Thursday for an upcoming film starring Justin Timberlake in which his character mentors a young boy with apparent gender dysphoria.
“Palmer,” which premieres Jan. 29, 2021, on Apple TV, is about Eddie Palmer, played by Timberlake, a former high school football star who returns to his Louisiana hometown after spending 12 years in prison, according to Rolling Stone. When he returns, he works a menial janitorial job.
“After his grandmother’s neighbor skips town,” writes Rolling Stone, “Palmer finds himself taking care of her young son, 7-year-old son Sam (Ryder Allen), who is exploring the contours of gender much to the discomfort of his classmates and teachers. What follows is an inspiring story of two outsiders bonded by the belief that you can determine your own future.”
The trailer suggests both Palmer and Sam are met with contempt from the town’s residents for being different. “Listen to me, son,” Palmer explains to Sam at one point. “Kids are mean, especially when they see something that they ain’t used to seeing.” An image of Sam being bullied at school is juxtaposed with Palmer walking through a church as a judgmental parishioner glares at him from his pew.
In another scene, Palmer explains to Sam that boys are not on TV shows about fairy princesses, to which Sam responds by saying that he “could be the first.” The next shot shows Palmer taking Sam trick-or-treating as a fairy princess.
“Justin and Fisher bring a resonant perspective to this emotional story,” co-producers and SK Global co-CEOs John Penotti and Charlie Corwin told Deadline in 2019. “It is both timely and ultimately a hopeful, entertaining story about the resilience and power of human kindness.”
“First look at #PALMER directed by Fisher Stevens (script by Cheryl Guerriero),” Timberlake tweeted Thursday, along with the trailer. “This story is really important to me and I’m proud to be part of it. Coming to @AppleTV JAN 29[.]”
First look at #PALMER directed by Fisher Stevens (script by Cheryl Guerriero). This story is really important to me and I’m proud to be part of it. Coming to @AppleTV JAN 29 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/hNA1Af11wG
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) December 17, 2020
The film’s screenplay, written by lesbian author Cheryl Guerriero, was on “The Black List” in 2016, which is an annual survey of hundreds of film executives regarding which unproduced screenplays they liked most that year.
The issue of transgender and gender non-conforming children is apparently becoming increasingly important to Hollywood. A day after actress Ellen Page was widely lauded for claiming to be a transgender man named Elliot earlier this month, children’s network Nickelodeon rolled out a “trans youth acting challenge.”
As The Daily Wire reported:
Nickelodeon is joining with one of its transgender actors to roll out a “trans youth acting challenge” for young people who identify as trans or nonbinary and want to pursue an acting career.
The network for children is working with actor Michael D. Cohen for the project, who played a character named Schwoz in the show “Henry Danger,” which aired from 2014 to 2020.
Cohen claimed in a 2019 interview with Time magazine to have assumed a male identity two decades ago after having been assigned female at birth.
Since the revelation, Cohen said, “I’ve been getting a lot of DMs and emails from trans kids around the world who, like me when I was a kid, had dreams of becoming an actor. So I went to Nickelodeon and said I really want to help make it possible for these kids to realize their dreams. So together we are partnering to create the ‘Michael D. Cohen Trans Youth Acting Challenge.’”
Related: Nickelodeon Rolls Out ‘Trans Youth Acting Challenge’ With Transgender Actor