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Joe Bell's Reid Miller Reveals How He Really Felt After Watching The Movie For The First Time - Exclusive

Knowing the tragic true story of Jadin Bell going into the filming of the fact-based story "Joe Bell" was heartbreaking enough for actor Reid Miller; but recreating the crucial time in Jadin's life and watching the completed film was even more devastating to the up-and-coming actor. Mark Wahlberg stars in the title role in "Joe Bell," an Oregon father who embarks on a walk across the country to raise awareness of bullying and how it led to his gay teen son, Jadin (Miller), to take his own life. However, the walk is also Joe's way to seek redemption for denying Jadin was gay when he came out to him and misunderstanding the pain his son was going through. As such, Joe imagines in his mind that Jadin is on the walk with him, so he can make up for his past mistakes and in a way forge the bond they never had when the teen was alive.

"Joe Bell," now playing in select theaters nationwide, also stars Connie Britton as Joe's wife and Jadin's mother, Lola, as well as Gary Sinise as a Sheriff Westin, a compassionate lawman who befriends Joe on the road. As Miller discovered, filming "Joe Bell" was one experience; actually seeing the completed movie and realizing the full impact of it was another, as he detailed in an exclusive interview with Looper.

Two scenes in Joe Bell were especially difficult to film, Reid Miller says

Reid Miller said two scenes in particular were especially difficult to film — when Jadin came out as gay to his father, whose reaction is of complete denial, and when Jadin desperately tries to call his friends for help before he takes his own life. But that didn't seem to compare with seeing the finished film for the first time.

"The whole film is a gut punch. And I feel like watching it for the first time, it left me in a bit of a dark spot," Miller said. "And I was like, 'Oh, man. I don't know if I can ever watch this movie again,' just because it's so unapologetically honest about what happened. And it needs to be," Miller explained. "And so, for me, I've definitely come to terms with that. And it's not a bad thing. It's just something that I don't think I quite realized, just how intense the film was going to turn out to be, but it needs to be. If it's going to get the message across and do exactly what it's supposed to do, it has to be like that."

Reid Miller hopes Joe Bell 'is a big step forward for a lot of people'

Perhaps the most sobering realization of "Joe Bell" is that the events of film took place eight short years ago. And while society appears to have made noticeable strides in terms of gay rights, Miller told Looper that he's disheartened that the epidemic of bullying still exists.

"That's the thing for me, is after everything that's happened, after all of these stories, after all of these people have either lost their lives or taken their own lives or suffered in silence for as long as they have, the fact that we're still even needing to have this conversation is kind of sad," Miller observed. "So, I hope this movie — I know it's not going to put an end to it — but I hope that this movie is a big step forward for a lot of people, for them to understand just how serious the situation is, and just how important it is to fight for our fellow man and people that we care about. And the fact that people should be able to love who they love, regardless of what that means."

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, and written by "Brokeback Mountain" screenwriters Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, "Joe Bell" is playing in select theaters nationwide.