Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Emma Enters the Adult World

2013 Tribeca Film Festival
 
Emma Enters the Adult World
 
from brinkzine.com (4/30/13) 
 
Emma Roberts
Photo: Perri Nemiroff
Perhaps it was because so few comedies were screened at the recent Tribeca Film Festival that I was so charmed by Scott Coffey's Adult World, a sweet-spirited little oddity featuring an engaging all-out lead performance by Emma Roberts. I'm partial to anyone--including Bonita Granville and Pamela Sue Martin--who plays one of my childhood heroines, Nancy Drew, so I've always rooted for Julia Roberts's niece to make good on her own. I was particularly impressed by her performances as the clever teenage sleuth and the fame-seeking teenage murderous in Scream 4, but as a young woman in Adult World she has really blossomed. Here the busy young actress plays Amy, a recent graduate from Syracuse, who is determined to be a professional poet, although her talent is dubious. To make ends meet, she must take a job in an adult bookstore. It's a peculiar place for her to work because she's a virgin who has spent her life reading books rather than experiencing life--including sex. She doesn't realize that her nice, handsome coworker (Evan Peters of American Horror Story and Roberts' real-life boyfriend) is attracted to her because she's too busy pursuing a has-been poet (John Cusack in fine form), hoping he will mentor her and, possibly, deflower her. Roberts throws caution-to-the-wind playing this endearing character who flops, fails, and suffers numerous embarrassments as she, like the actress, tries so hard. And Amy wins us over. During the festival I took part in the following roundtable and I was won over by Roberts, a smart, humble, and as nice a movie star as you'll ever meet. If she uses the word "cool" to describe most things, it's cool because she's cool. I note my questions. (The informal photos of Roberts posing alone and with me were taken by movie critic Perri Nemiroff.)
Q: You hadn't seen Adult World before its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival?
Emma Roberts: No, and it was so much fun. I was so nervous, I was white-knuckling the chair and felt like hiding under it, but then people started laughing so I slowly sat up and relaxed a little bit. It was definitely nerve-wracking because the things I laughed at weren't always the things anyone else laughed at, and those times I said, "Oh my god, that was horrible," everyone's on the floor laughing.
So it was hard for me as an actor in the movie to be objective about it, but I couldn't have asked for a better audience. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it.
Danny Peary: What is its appeal?
ER: I think it's a cute movie, because it's funny but it also says something. It's really current and talks about a lot of issues and feelings of young people. I feel like it captures a generation that hasn't really been captured in movies or on TV. I think it captures my generation's feelings toward the real world.
Q: How did you come to be in the movie?
ER: I was sent the script, and it was one of those scripts I thought was really special and different. It was just one of those things I loved and wanted to be a part of. I met with Scott Coffey, the director, and we had the best time ever, talking for hours and hours.
DP: Did you audition, either by yourself or with other people in the movie?
ER: I didn't audition, I just met with Scott and we just clicked. I know he read a bunch of actresses, so I was shocked that I got the part off that one meeting. That was awesome because that rarely happens. I couldn't imagine not being there, I would have been devastated if I didn't get it.
DP: What did he ask you?
ER: He asked me a lot about the character Amy, and the script. At the time I didn't think of it as my being interviewed, really, but I guess he liked that we had the same perspective and wanted to just tell the same kind of story. We wanted it to be a coming-of-age story but coming from a different direction, kind of anti-Hollywood. Girl gets out of college, what does she do? She fails, over and over and over and over again. That's kind of what happens to Amy. And we wanted to show that in an honest way instead of having her end up being really famous and successful! Obviously, it's not like that. Scott and I worked so hard on creating this character. I put a lot of myself into it, which was really cool to do with a role.
Q: Did this character speak to you?
ER: Definitely, I relate to having your life planned out for you, and then all of the sudden you're at the age when everything is supposed to already have happened in a certain way, and it hasn't--so you have to reassess your plan, whether professionally or personally. I think that a lot of people, especially from my generation, don't really have a Plan B. That's what is so funny about Amy. She has no plan besides becoming a published poet. So it's cool to see someone have to literally figure it all out as she goes along.
Q: She doesn't give up.
ER: You know, it's funny, because when I saw the movie for the first time, I realized Amy comes across as being much more optimistic than I had intended her to be, but I'm actually glad she does. She's a little bit ignorant, and that's why she's so optimistic. I don't think she realizes she has failed but the audience does. She's already messed up so much but she doesn't see it, and we wait for her to find out. That's why you root for her.
DP: Do you relate to characters who are searching for an identity?
ER: Definitely. I think it's fun as a young woman to get to play characters who are searching for something, whether it's their identity, or love, or something they can be passionate about.
DP: And you relate to that?
ER: Yes, of course, I relate to that because I'm 22 and I'm still figuring myself out in some ways, and finding out new things every day, and also finding things that are interesting and cool. Yeah, I definitely relate to that in my characters.
DP: In this film, Amy tries to communicate through poetry and in other roles you've played, on your Nickelodeon TV series Unfabulous and in your movies, your characters have communicated through music. As an actor-singer, do you particularly identify with characters who communicate through art?
ER: Definitely, I think it's cool to play characters like that. A lot of my younger characters are trying to communicate, like Amy, through poetry, or through singing or through whatever their ambitions are. Young people do try to communicate like that, trying to connect. I can definitely relate to Amy because I love to read and it's cool to connect with people through words. It's really big connection when you connect over a piece of work. With every part, you find yourself playing someone who likes something or does something, and you have to learn about it. For Amy, I definitely read a lot more poetry. I read lot of Anne Sexton. She is a great female poet and feminist, and I had her in the back of my mind when playing Amy. Amy would appreciate Anne Sexton because all of her stuff is kind of provocative and some of it is really ethereal.

AdultWorldemmajohn.jpg John Cusack and Emma Roberts
Q: Talk more about working with Scott Coffey.
ER: Scott is such an amazing director. I think it's because he was an actor. It does make him a better director, as far as being able to speak about the story with us. It was just fun because he and I became, like, best friends. During shooting we ended up having our own language, where we would talk and no one could understand us because we were going a million miles a minute. Then I'd say, "Okay, let's do it!" and everyone else would be like, What did you guys just say?
Q: What was it like to work with John Cusack?
 
adultworldemmajohn2.jpg Emma Roberts and John Cusack
ER: I'm such a fan of John Cusack and all his movies, so to meet him and get to work with him was really, really cool. He was just so much fun, particularly with the adlibbing he would do. A lot of my reactions to him were genuine, because I'd be thrown off, or laugh, or be like, what? I'd listen to him go off on some story while in character. We both did that to each other. If you asked me to improvise right now, I couldn't do it, and I've been on movies where you're supposed to adlib and everyone just ends up looking at the camera. For me, it all depends who I'm working with. and on this the camera would roll for 7 or 8 minutes of adlibbing and that was really great.
DP: Why does your character work in an adult bookstore?
ER: Well, she couldn't get any other job, and for her I think it's weird because she's kind of a prude. She doesn't have any life experience yet she thinks she's bursting with life experience. She's becoming a woman and working in a sex shop, yet she's never had sex. She's never had a boyfriend. I feel that she's realizing she actually doesn't know everything and hasn't experienced anything, and that's kind of a subtle wake-up call for her.
adultworldemmaevan.jpg Evan Peters and Emma Roberts

DP: But why do you think Scott places her an adult bookstore?
ER: I think the adult bookstore is a backdrop. This movie is not raunchy at all, it's really not over-sexualized at all. The store adds to the comedy actually, as opposed to the drama of it. The movie is more comedic than serious, including about sex. That part is actually light-hearted. I remember the first day we were shooting in the store, everyone was laughing and joking around and throwing sex items at each other, and picking up something and asking, What's this? And everyone's like, Emma put that down! Oh my god! I'm not embarrassed by that stuff at all, I just think it's funny, but I can definitely relate to Amy being like, What does this mean? and then being like, Oh my god, don't tell anyone I asked that!
DP: What did you think of working on location in Syracuse?
ER: Syracuse is the coldest place on earth. Literally. It is the coldest place I've ever been to and I was shivering all the time. My nose is red and my lips are blue in the movie. Clearly they let me wear no makeup. My mom saw the movie and she's like, You look really tired, and I'm agreeing that I look really tired and really cold, because I'm so pale. And when I get cold my dark circles get worse.
Q: What else are you working on?
ER: This summer I have a movie coming out called We're the Millers. It's with Jennifer Aniston and is a really cool family road-trip comedy. And I just did a pilot called Delirium for Fox: a one-hour drama based on a young-adult trilogy. I also did a movie called Palo Alto that Gia Coppola directed and that'll probably be out at one of the upcoming festivals, hopefully.
Q: Did you read James Franco's Palo Alto Stories?
ER: Yeah, I loved the book, I thought it was really cool and the movie was really, really cool. Gia did an amazing job with it. James is actually in the movie. He plays a teacher and I play a student and we have a romance.
Q: How old are you in that?
ER: I play 15 or 16, and they made me look really, really young.
Q: How hard has it been moving from kid to adult roles?
ER: It's one of those things that happens naturally and gradually, at least for me. I'm not opposed to still playing a teenager if the role is great. If the part's good it doesn't really matter, you know? But I also like playing older roles too, and obviously playing my age, like I do in Adult World.
DP: Who are your fans right now?
ER: It's pretty cool to have different groups fans, because people will come up to me about so many different roles. People will still come up to me about my show, and Nancy Drew and then people will come up to me about Scream 4, and then people who havent even seen Delirium are already coming up to me about it. So it's a big, wide group, which I like because I like to do to different things and see different kinds of people appreciating different things. The people who come up to me never like what I think theyre about to say they like, but like something else I've done. It's funny that everyone has such different tastes about everything. It's fun to keep it interesting like that!
AdultworldDannyEmmaRobertsphoto.jpgEmma Roberts and DP photo: Perri Nemiroff

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