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features /  film interview
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the heart is deceitful... interview
the heart is deceitful... interview
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When childhoods go bad, with director Asia Argento and writer JT LeRoy.

The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things is based on the second of two semi-autobiographical books (the first being Sarah) by 24-year-old JT (Jeremiah) LeRoy, about being brought up by a wayward single mother who earned a living as a prostitute. Itís an unnerving tale which sees JT being passed between his mother, his religious grandparents and the social services.

JT LeRoy (left) and Asia Argento (right).

The candid, punchy prose of the book described how JT, who now masquerades in a wig and high heels in public, became a prostitute in his teens and how he was soon being feted as one of Americaís best young authors. He warns that his words should not be treated as gospel, though. ďItís not strictly the truth. This is my version of the truth. I think if I wrote it now it would be different because Iíve changed.Ē

Now JTís story has been adapted into a film by Asia Argento, daughter of the famed horror master Dario, who could tap into LeRoyís mindset because she has her own tale of bizarre childhood and fractured living to tell. Against her fatherís wishes, the Italian started acting at the age of nine. Shunted into the public eye at birth, she spectacularly went off the rails and, having appeared in several of her fatherís most provocative films, she went off to try her luck in Hollywood. Many of these zany tales are to be found in Scarlet Diva (2000), a movie she directed, wrote and starred in.

The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.

On the similarities and differences between her childhood of riches in Italia and JTís in downtrodden truckers stops across America, Argento argues, ďI think that every childhood is pretty brutal because even in the best cases our voice as children is sometimes not loud enough to be heard.Ē

Together, her and LeRoy discovered a mutual understanding and friendship. Something which has enabled Asia to portray JTís mother Sarah in the movie, and demonstrate the flipside of the American dream.

Kaleem Aftab 15 July 05
The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, on selected release 15 July 05.
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