Actor Reid Miller was around 13 years old when he first heard about the death of Jadin Bell. The Oregon teenager who died by suicide in 2013 inspired a national conversation about bullying and its effects on LGBTQ youth.
It never occurred to Miller, now 21, that in less than a decade he would get the opportunity to portray Jadin in a feature film. Doing so, he said, was “an honor.”
“Joe Bell” is not an easy story, but it’s one that many, including Jadin’s surviving family, have been committed to telling for years. After Jadin died, his father, Joe Bell, decided to walk across the continental United States spreading awareness about the negative effects of bullying.
Producer Cary Joji Fukunaga stumbled on the story in an article in 2013 and saw in it the possibility for a feature, enlisting the Oscar-winning screenwriting duo behind “Brokeback Mountain,” Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, who died this year, to bring it to life. Not long after, Mark Wahlberg signed on to produce and star as Joe Bell, who is coming to terms with the guilt around not doing enough to support and protect his son.