The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Wednesday 30th January 2013
A sensitive teenager learns to navigate the soaring highs and perilous lows of adolescence in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a powerful and affecting coming-of-age story based on the wildly popular young adult novel by Stephen Chbosky. Starring Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson and the Olympians), Emma Watson (the Harry Potter franchise) and Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Another Happy Day), The Perks of Being a Wallflower captures the complexities of growing up with uncommon grace, humour and compassion.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower also stars Kate Walsh (Private Practice, Grey's Anatomy), Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story, The Practice), Mae Whitman (Parenthood, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Nina Dobrev (The CW's The Vampire Diaries), Erin Wilhelmi (The English Teacher), Johnny Simmons (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) Zane Holtz (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) and Joan Cusack (The Toy Story Franchise, High Fidelity, Arthur Christmas), The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a touching and often funny portrait of the joy and anguish involved in becoming an adult.
The film's producers are Lianne Halfon (Juno, Jeff Who Lives at Home, Young Adult), Russell Smith (Juno, Jeff Who Lives at Home, Young Adult) and John Malkovich (Juno). Original music is by Michael Brook (The Vow, The Fighter). Costume designer is David C. Robinson (Young Adult, Shame). Editors are Mary Jo Markey (Star Trek, Super 8). Production designer is Inbal Weinberg (Our Idiot Brother, Blue Valentine). Director of photography is Andrew Dunn (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Life as We Know It). James Powers (LOL, Mean Girls) is an executive producer. Music Supervisor is Alexandra Patsavas (The Twilight Saga, Grey's Anatomy, The OC, Gossip Girl).
It's 1991 and academically precocious, socially awkward Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a wallflower, always watching from the sidelines, until a pair of charismatic seniors take him under their wing. Beautiful, free"spirited Sam (Emma Watson) and her fearless stepbrother, Patrick (Ezra Miller), shepherd Charlie through new friendships, first love, burgeoning sexuality, bacchanalian parties, midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the quest for the perfect song. At the same time, his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd) introduces him to the world of literature, sparking his dreams of becoming a writer.
But even as Charlie thrives in his new, more grown-up world, the pain of his past - which includes, his best friend Michael's recent suicide and the accidental death of a beloved aunt - lurks just below the surface. As his older friends plan to leave home for college, Charlie's precarious equilibrium begins to crumble and at the root of his sadness is a shocking revelation.
In 1987, a then-17-year-old Stephen Chbosky (pronounced sha-bos-key) attended a film festival at the Fulton Theater in Pittsburgh where he met one of the city's most famous citizens - horror king George Romero. The aspiring screenwriter and director asked Romero to sign a poster for him that now hangs in his office. The inscription reads: "Steve, stay scared. I hope you get your first script produced. George Romero".
His first screenplay may remain unproduced, but his first literary effort, the young adult novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, was published in 1999 and has gone on to become a cult favorite that has been required reading at some schools and banned at others. Now Chbosky has written and directed a sensitively framed film based on his acclaimed novel. Like the book, the movie follows its hero, Charlie, through a thrilling, traumatic and ultimately triumphant first year of high school.
A graduate of the prestigious screenwriting program at the University of Southern California, Chbosky began writing the book while still in college, completing it a few years later while living in New York. "I wrote the book for very personal reasons", he says. "I was going through a difficult time in my personal life. But I had also reached a point in my life where I was ready to write about why good people have to go through such bad things and how a family of friends can get you through. I really needed answers for myself and it was like Charlie tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'I'm ready to tell my story.'"
Ironically, it's the intensely personal nature of the material that makes it so universal, he says. "I was not trying to please everybody or reach everybody. I was just trying to tell my own truth. I never thought about appealing to a wide audience. I authentically told my story and I think that people respect that".
The book's remarkable success led to several offers for the writer to adapt the story for the movies. Instead, Chbosky moved to Los Angeles to pursue other projects, including writing the screenplay for the movie version of the Broadway phenomenon "Rent" and co-creating the CBS television series "Jericho". But he knew that at some point he would return to Charlie's story.
"I always wanted to make a movie based on my book", he says. "I saw the images so vividly when I was writing it. But I wanted the time and distance to do it right. In the interim, I worked on a lot of different scripts. I honed my craft until I was ready to write a script that was authentic to the book".
Chbosky felt an enormous sense of accountability toward his multitudes of fans as he adapted the popular novel into a screenplay. "In the 13 years since Perks was first published, I've received hundreds of letters and emails", he explains. "Some of them would break your heart. You realize that a lot of kids feel terribly alone. They think that that no one is listening, that no one cares. Some of them say they were thinking about ending it, but then they read the book and chose not to. When that happens, it changes you and you realize what a responsibility you have".
The book is written as a series of letters from Charlie to an unnamed correspondent. Charlie's letters deal frankly with issues that continue to confront teens over a decade later. Some of those "hot button" topics, including drug and alcohol use and sex, have made the material controversial in some communities. "Every time the book gets banned, people say it's a badge of honour", says the author. "But for me, there's always a sad moment. I wrote the book in part to end a silence. I want parents and kids to talk about what they are going through. Censorship and book banning just end the conversation".
More important than any of the events of the book are the characters, the author says. For that reason, when writing the script, he streamlined the plot and focused on the relationship between Charlie and the first friends he makes at his new school, most notably Sam and her stepbrother Patrick, who see in him a kindred spirit. "Some things had to go, but the central themes are unchanged", says Chbosky.
"The family of friends and the relationship between Charlie and Sam and Patrick had to be there. I ultimately did cut things that are beautiful in the book, but didn't quite fit into the movie. But if I had filmed every scene in the book, it would've been about four hours long". The story is still told through Charlie's eyes, but Chbosky engineered a subtle shift in point of view that he knew was necessary to tell his story most effectively. "In the book, we come to love Charlie's friends through his love for them", he says. "But that doesn't work in a movie. I had to find an objective way to show Charlie's subjective love. I had to do things like make the character of Patrick much funnier, because it wasn't good enough for Charlie to describe how funny Patrick was. He had to actually earn it".
Hearing that Chbosky was working on an adaptation of his novel, Lianne Halfon, Russell Smith and John Malkovich, partners in Mr. Mudd Productions, reached out to him. The company is responsible for films including the Oscar®-nominated Juno, Ghost World, Art School Confidential, Abel and Jeff Who Lives at Home, as well as acclaimed documentaries including Which Way Home. The partners agreed that Chbosky was the only director they would consider for the project, even if that made putting together a deal a bit more difficult.
"There was an understanding that when we had a screenplay that truly reflected the book, we would start shopping it around", says Smith. "All the components had to be the best, because a first"time director is always the biggest unknown, but we were all in agreement that Stephen needed to direct the movie. Since Stephen had written a beautiful book and a wonderful screenplay, we were confident that he could pull it off".
The team took a hands-on approach to filmmaking, a decision much appreciated by the first time director. "I couldn't have asked for better producers", says Chbosky. "They were there every day on set and in post"production. They always told me the truth. Their notes and suggestions were invaluable". John Malkovich gave Chbosky one key piece of advice before shooting began. "John told me the reason he loved the script was that it had real heart. And because we had real heart, we didn't need sentiment. He said, 'Always get the tough take,' and I never forgot that. I'm a softie. I want the romantic take, but more often than not, that simple note saved us from becoming too sentimental".
Chbosky calls the completed film an unconventional love story. "I wrote the line 'we accept the love we think we deserve' in my first draft", he says. "It became a central theme for the entire book and then ultimately the movie. It's not just about romantic love. It can be about friends. It can be about how you treat yourself. It's about how to have a great life if you just let in more of the world".
Although the novel is most often read by teenagers, Chbosky is confident that the film's appeal transcends age. "Watching the movie, an adult may get very nostalgic about what it was it like to be that young", he says. "A twelve-year-old, who hasn't been through high school yet, may find a bit of a road map. Someone in the thick of it might just need some affirmation that what they're going through is real and that someone else gets it. I want a mom to see the movie and remember being young and I want a daughter to feel affirmed about what it is to be young. I want them both to be compelled to talk to each other about what they've experienced. That's all I want".
Finding the right actors for any film is a delicate process, but filling the shoes of characters beloved by a generation presents unique challenges. Chbosky meticulously put together an extraordinary cast for his directing debut, including a gifted trio of young actors playing the central characters of Charlie, Sam and Patrick: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. "I think the script was waiting for this cast", he says. "If I'd finished the screenplay three years earlier, they would all have been too young. If I finished two years later, they would be too old".
Logan Lerman, an emerging star who plays the title role in the Percy Jackson franchise was cast as Charlie. His immediate connection to the character surprised even the director. "I thought no one knew Charlie like I did, but Logan does", says Chbosky. "His performance is so subtle. He is awkward, but at the same time he's handsome and positive. He navigates every emotion with such dexterity. I think it's one of the greatest performances I have ever seen by such a young actor".
Chbosky was so impressed by Lerman's emotional transparency and versatility that he preserved a moment of the film that he says represents the actor at his best. "He has a very emotional scene with Joan Cusack, who plays Dr. Burton. We tried it so many ways. I saved a ten-minute take of him doing the scene three times, with small adjustments. It is one of the most powerful ten minutes I have ever seen on film. I will cherish it forever".
Logan Lerman knew the novel by reputation, but had not read it when he received the script. His reaction to the story and the characters was immediate and intense. "I was overwhelmed with emotion", he says. "The people are so real and interesting. I didn't know who I wanted to play at first, but I knew that I wanted to be a part of the film no matter what".
He soon decided that Charlie was the role he really wanted. "Charlie's very naïve and uncomfortable in his own skin", he says. "He's trying to deal with the emotional struggles of some tough situations in his past and make it through his first year of high school". What saves Charlie, says Chbosky, is his openness. "Charlie is a very pure soul. On the surface, he's awkward and lonesome, but he always tries to find joy in the world. He has just entered high school, he has lost a dear friend and he is still struggling with the loss of his favourite relative many years before.
He's trying to find some hope and what he gets is a bunch of mean seniors and a sister who won't eat lunch with him. Then he does a brave thing. He goes stag to the Friday night football game and he encounters Patrick. It changes his life forever. And that is an important message. Just get off the wall. Just go to the game. You might look like a dork. But go to the game".
Given that the material is so well-known and loved, Lerman was reassured to know that Chbosky retained creative control over the screenplay and the film shoot. "The book means so much to so many people", he says. "Steve brought real passion to the process and passion is contagious. It was an exhausting shoot, but sitting down and talking to Steve every day refuelled me. He assembled a group of people whose work I deeply admire. To be a part of a film where I can work with these talented people is a big honour. I just hope that people respond to it as strongly as we did".
Sam and Patrick are step-siblings, seniors who introduce Charlie to their friends, a group of creative free spirits that Sam refers to as inhabitants of the "island of misfit toys". "They decide to welcome him so that he doesn't ever have to feel alone again", says Chbosky. "Sam has a reputation for being a bit wild and Patrick is gay, so they know what it feels like to be judged. You cannot deny the inherent goodness of these two kids. They teach Charlie the ways of the world. They give him permission to explore life, to strip down to his underwear and stand in front of 300 people for The Rocky Horror Picture Show and to question the things he thinks he knows. They lead him to his first kiss, his first great drive and to the music that will define his entire life".
Emma Watson plays Sam in her first major role since she completed the Harry Potter films that made her a star at the tender age of 11. "To me, Sam is the perfect girl", says Chbosky. "Emma is absolutely luminous in the role. She took it very seriously. It took about five minutes for me to realize that she was the perfect person for the character and the movie. She grew up in the middle of a hurricane and she did it with such grace and such class, but there is this loneliness about her. I knew when I met her that this was a part of her that was just dying to come out. She just needed permission". Watson was studying at Brown University when she received the script. Unfamiliar with the novel, she mentioned it to several friends and discovered they were huge fans. "I was actually crying when I finished the script", says Watson. "There's no way that you won't be able to relate to the experiences of the characters. I didn't need to go to an American high school or attend prom to be able to relate to Sam-or Charlie or Brad or any of the characters".
After almost a decade of playing Hermione Granger, Watson was well aware of the risks involved in bringing a beloved fictional character to life. "I sometimes felt like I'd jumped straight from one frying pan into another", she admits. "People seem to care just as much about Sam as they do Harry Potter. It's a great deal of pressure to try and embody a character that people already love and identify with. I just hope that it lives up to people's expectations and that we do justice to a brilliant book".
Having Chbosky at the helm gave her confidence that they were doing just that. "There is such a pure line of connection", she says. "Steve had a complete vision for the movie. He had been dreaming about making it for over ten years. The man had every shot planned out in his head. He knew how he wanted everything to look and feel and I had absolute faith in him because it's his world".
Each of the characters faces a crisis in the story, according to Watson. "There isn't a single character that doesn't have an arc or that isn't fully developed. They are dealing with some quite difficult, serious stuff, but it's always juxtaposed with something humorous, so hopefully we will make audiences laugh and cry in equal measure".
And Sam is able to learn from Charlie as much as he does from her. "He has been through a pretty rough time", she notes. "But he is the sweetest, most sensitive soul you'll ever meet. Sam and Patrick try to shepherd him through the first year of high school, which we all know can be intimidating".
Sam is one of these kids in school who feels like she constantly has to be up and party like crazy. That gets exhausting after a while. With Charlie, she can finally be herself around someone else". The actress speaks of her co-stars with affection and great respect. "It was such fun working with Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller because we have the same kind of bond in real life", she says. "It made the work not really feel like work. Logan is going to break hearts in this movie. He's devastating. He innately understands Charlie. And Ezra's so funny. Getting to adlib with him was a dream. I thought I had energy, but he's on another level entirely. He's the perfect casting for Patrick".
The director has equally high praise for Watson. "Emma threw herself into that character and she never looked back", says Chbosky. "She has so much passion, so much professionalism, so much artistic integrity that it inspired me. She took a big risk with this movie. And she embraced every part of it. She found the character and she was brilliant".
Patrick is Sam's best friends as well as her stepbrother. He is witty, utterly unconventional and larger than life. "Patrick is a clown and a smart ass, but he will always stick up for whoever who needs sticking up for", says Chbosky. "He is what I consider a guy's guy, even though he's gay. It was important to me in writing the character and then casting Ezra Miller, that in this movie the gay kid be the coolest one and he's the strongest one. He's the one that Charlie wants to be. Ezra Miller played him perfectly".
At only 19, Miller is quickly amassing an impressive body of work, playing complex characters in the recent films We Need to Talk About Kevin and Another Happy Day. He claims that his first reaction to the script was, "Holy mother of Jehovah". The Perks Of Being A Wallflower was a seminal book for me and a lot of my close friends when we were starting high school", he adds. "It's youth incarnate. Adolescence is a time when it is almost impossible to figure out what is going on. There's a massive void created where the innocence and wonder of childhood used to be. There are lessons we all must learn and they're really hard. A lot of the time, it feels pointless. But if you can maintain your dignity in the face of pain it will power you through the rest of your life".
Patrick gets through it all because he has a rare understanding of his own identity, according to Miller. "He can stand in the middle of an American high school and acknowledge that he's gay. Because he and his awesome group of idiosyncratic crazy friends are all struggling to realize their identities, he recognizes that in Charlie".
Patrick derives much of his strength from Sam and vice versa, says Miller. "Sam and Patrick are male and female counterparts. Together they make this great personable whole. Their two hearts together can just forge through whatever the situation may be". Like their characters, Miller, Watson and Logan forged a lasting bond during the production. "I think Emma and I were bound to know one other", says the actor.
He describes Lerman as "the consummate cinephile who understands every technical aspect of what's happening. I think he's not only one of the next important leading men in film, but he will also be a major force behind the camera".
Expressing his respect for Chbosky, Miller notes how rare it is for an original novelist to be able to carry his vision all the way to the screen as Chbosky has. "But I don't think that it would have been possible for anyone else to make this film. Steve is a natural director. He would give notes that put everything in perspective and allow the actors to move the scene in the direction he wanted without imposing his vision. He also managed to put together a cast that is like the ultimate chemistry set".
Chbosky always felt that the friendship between the teenagers in the movie would have to bleed into real life for it to be believable on screen. "I told everyone that it was really important that they have the summer of their lives", he says. "If they did that, my job would be easy. And they did. All the camaraderie led to for them staying up all night and playing music and becoming great friends, which translated to the movie. And that extended to all the kids in the cast. Mae Whitman and Emma became instant girlfriends".
Whitman, who currently plays Amber Holt on the NBC series Parenthood, is Mary Elizabeth, Sam's best friend and an important influence on Charlie. "Mary Elizabeth is really bossy and tries to be in charge of everybody", says Chbosky. "She can be a bit of a buffoon sometimes and Mae fully embraced the buffoonery in playing her. But through her relationship with Charlie, she eventually learns to open up to someone who cares about her and not just open the floodgates to someone who's not that into her".
The actress came to the set already a fan of the book. "I was surprised and grateful that the script was so faithful to the original", she says. "So often a screenplay doesn't do the book justice, but here, it didn't feel like anything was missing. The story really puts the feeling of being young and sensitive in perspective. Everything is new and you're having all these intense feelings for the first time. It can be overwhelming and emotional and painful. The movie deals with a lot of difficult issues, but nothing is sugar-coated. It's comforting to know that other people are going through the same things, however dark they may be".
Whitman found that her familiarity with book was a helpful guide for discovering the nuances in her character and rounding out her relationships with other characters. "Mary Elizabeth is a complex character", says Whitman. "She's kind of punky and Goth with an angry exterior and strong opinions. But she's also a Buddhist. She feels the connection to the world and she passes that on to Charlie. It's very hard for her to be vulnerable or to put herself out there in a way that is feminine. Through reading the book, I knew about many things that Sam and Mary Elizabeth had been through together and why they are so close".
Nina Dobrev, one the stars of the CW Network's popular The Vampire Diaries, plays Candace, Charlie's seemingly happy older sister. "I think the film speaks to a lot of different kinds of people", Dobrev says, "The people and issues transcend time. It doesn't matter that it's set in the '90s, it relates to people today and it will relate to people 10 years from now. My character tries to be perfect all the time, straight A's and all of that. And her life turns out to be anything but. Everyone knows someone like that - or is that person".
The cast also includes Erin Wilhelmi as Alice, Mary Elizabeth's best friend. When she received the script, she knew right away which character she wanted to portray. Wilhelmi says, "In her first character description, it said that she was trying to be Goth, but not succeeding. And then it said, 'Dot, dot, dot poor Alice.' And I thought, 'Perfect.'"
Johnny Simmons plays Brad, a high"school quarterback with a secret life. Like the other characters, he has something to teach Charlie, whether he knows it or not. "From Sam, he learns about redemption", says Chbosky. "From Patrick, he learns that it's okay to be exactly who you are and be fearless about it. If people make fun of you, then fight back. Brad shows him that not everyone is who they seem. You never know what people are going through behind closed doors. Even the toughest person you've ever met has insecurities, you know. Even the toughest person needs love".
The adults in Charlie's life were just as painstakingly conceived and cast. "For me, too many movies about young people make adults seem foolish", says Chbosky. "This movie tries to respect both sides".
To play Charlie's favorite teacher and mentor, Mr. Anderson, the director turned to Paul Rudd. "I met Paul in New York about ten years ago", he says. "My book had been out for about a year and I knew then that I'd make the movie someday and that he would be the guy to play Mr. Anderson".
The inspiration for the character was Chbosky's real life teacher, Stuart Stern. A faculty member at USC's film school, Stern wrote the screenplays for such classic films as Rebel Without a Cause, Sibyl, Rachel Rachel and The Ugly American. "There he was talking about when he first met James Dean, when he was traveling with Brando, working with Sally Field to figure out how to play Sibyl. I could not believe it. It completely changed my life. He became my friend and my mentor. He's the first person who ever read the screenplay of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Mr. Anderson is my tribute to him. He's a teacher who cares and encourages a student he sees something special in".
Rudd was unaware of the book's popularity until he mentioned Chbosky's name in front of his children's babysitter. "She said 'you mean Perks of Being a Wallflower Steve Chbosky? That's my favourite book of all time.' To that generation, this book is so beloved and I had no idea".
The actor remembers having several teachers who made him feel that they saw and understood him. "And I liked the idea of playing that kind of guy", he says. "But it was weird being the elder statesman on the movie. I've never been in that position before. But it helped me find the character. He sees some of himself in this kid. Maybe he thinks that Charlie is more talented as a writer than he is, but he knows that this is somebody who really appreciates literature in the same way he does and in a way that probably most of the class doesn't".
Charlie's home life is as important as his school "family" and Chbosky counts himself fortunate to have had veteran actors Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott and Melanie Lynsky on hand to play his mother, father and aunt respectively. "I wanted to believe this family emotionally and physically", says Chbosky. "They had to embody the emotions of the story we were telling".
The Perks of Being a Wallflower was shot primarily in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, including Peters Township, Bethel Park, Dormont and Upper St. Clair, the same area in which, not coincidentally, Stephen Chbosky grew up.
"There was nowhere else I could have made this movie", he says. "Filming in Pittsburgh was authentic to the book, as well as to my upbringing. There's a scene between Aunt Helen and little Charlie outside on the street. The house I grew up in is literally off camera by about 15 yards".
Emma Watson testifies to the filmmaker's home-turf advantage: "Steve grew up in Pittsburgh. It is his hometown, it is where he went to school and the characters, for the most part, are really based on real people that he knew, some of whom he still does know. It was amazing to be able to shoot there".
Before shooting began, Chbosky introduced the cast to some of the important landmarks of his own teen years. "Teenagers have some things in common everywhere, but the truth is in the details", he says. "The cast didn't know what Sarris chocolate pretzels were until they came here. They hadn't had chipped ham or cheese fries from the Original O or a sandwich at Primanti Bros. That was the homework that I gave them. Needless to say, they loved their homework.
"Sometimes it felt like I brought the circus to town. We all stayed in one small hotel right near the mall that I hung out at when I was a teenager. They embraced the whole suburban experience, which was something none of them really had. They were all child actors. They grew up on sets and so they all finally got to have their high-school experience, go to the food court and go to the movie theatre, while sweet Emma stopped and signed every Harry Potter book she was handed".
For the scenes of some of the characters' most challenging life moments, Peters Township High School stood in for Mill Grove High School.
And for the movie's riotous Rocky Horror Picture Show scenes, the director returned to the landmark Dormont Hollywood Theater where he originally saw the film as a teen. While Chbosky admits that he was afraid to participate during his own high-school days, he gave his characters free rein as the stars of the front-of-screen live re-enactment of the classic movie.
"The local 'Rocky Horror Floor Show' cast were our technical advisors", he says. "And the audience is filled with real Rocky Horror devotees. Ezra Miller and Emma Watson were in heaven during those scenes. We had to drag Ezra off the stage because he was so into playing Frank-N-Furter. Those were two of the greatest days we had".
The scene was a highlight for costume designer David Robinson, as well. "We had a lot of fun", he says. "It had to look like high-school kids had made their own costumes, but we also needed it to look cool. I think the end result was fantastic. Plus Ezra Miller in five-inch pumps is someone to be reckoned with "
Perhaps the most meaningful element for Chbosky in recreating his youth for the screen was the evocative soundtrack he put together for the film. "I don't care how old you are", he says. "When you think back to your youth, you think of the music you listened to. I made mix tapes like the kids in the movie, then CDs and now it's playlists. It's a constant with kids. Music is one of the cornerstones of being young. It helps form your identity. It defines you and bonds you to your friends".
He sets his story to the soundtrack of his high-school years that includes some of the most memorable music of the late '80s and early '90s, including "Asleep" by The Smiths, "Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners, "Could it Be Another Change" by The Samples and "Araby" by The Reivers. "I knew 'Come On Eileen' was absolutely going to be the homecoming song. I knew that Air Supply had to be in it. And I wanted XTC's 'Dear God' in the movie because I love that song. But the cornerstone of the movie is 'Asleep,' which I first heard on a mix tape many years ago. It defined a year of my life".
Music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas contributed her ideas as well, recommending songs that Chbosky was not familiar with. "She has such a passion for that era", he says. "She introduced me to things that I'd never heard before, but I will love until the day I die. To me the soundtrack is a mix tape that reflects a time and sets a tone. I'm really, really proud of the music in this film".
The music and singing didn't always stop once the cameras stopped rolling. A hotel room band, jokingly dubbed Octopus Jam, included Ezra Miller on drums, Logan Lerman on guitar and Watson on vocals, along with a rotating roster of "guest" artists, including singer-songwriter Landon Pigg, who appears in the film as well.
Emma Watson says, "It was such a great group of people. We all hung out at the hotel at night and we played music. Pretty much everyone involved is musically talented in some way, so we spent most of our evenings playing and talking and being silly".
Equally important to recreating the late 20th"century feeling for the film were the costumes. With more than a dozen principals and crowds of extras, costume designer David Robinson says he scoured thrift stores in and around Pittsburgh. "The leads had numerous costume changes. We had a football game, a pep rally, a homecoming dance, Sadie Hawkins, Christmas, Rocky Horror, prom, graduation. It was like one huge storm after another of clothes".
For the extras alone, more 4,000 changes were required. Robinson used local high-school yearbooks to ensure authenticity and repurposed vintage clothing for costumes including Sam's homecoming dress, which was refashioned from a long gown. Chbosky was as involved in costume selection as he was in everything else on the shoot, sometimes walking through the wardrobe trailer to pull pieces for specific characters.
One of the highlights of both the book and the film is a pair of scenes that could only be filmed in Pittsburgh. The Fort Pitt Tunnel leads into downtown Pittsburgh, feeding cars onto a bridge with an expansive view of the city's skyline. A must-see for visitors to the city, it is the setting for a transformational moment for Charlie, as he first watches Sam take an exhilarating ride in the back of pickup truck hurtling through the tunnel and later takes that same ride himself.
Chbosky calls that sequence a dream come true. "I've had the image of those kids flying through the tunnel in my head for about 18 years now and to finally have actually filmed it felt pretty fantastic".
Watson was initially told that she wouldn't be allowed to actually participate in the stunt, but she was determined to do it herself and finally wore the director down. She soon found herself standing in the back of a flatbed truck, traveling at around 60 miles-per-hour through the tunnel, tethered by a single cord. "I had only one string, with my hands in the air, all the way through the tunnel until we came out the other end", she remembers. "The first time I did it, I became so emotional that I cried. It was really special and beautiful and the shot blew my mind. It's stunning and Steve knew when he conceptualized it that it would be amazing. It was, hands down, one of the exciting moments of my life".
Charlie repeats the ride later in the film and Lerman also insisted on doing the stunt himself. "The experience can't be matched. I remember climbing out onto the truck bed and standing up. We shot out of the tunnel and I saw the city lights. I have never experienced anything like that before. Words can't describe how awesome it was".
The image of the teens "in flight", which closes both the novel and the movie, is what Chbosky wants to stay with viewers. "In the face of all that pain, they feel the possibilities for the future are infinite", he says. "It's the perfect song, the perfect drive and they're the perfect people. These are the moments that will define your life forever. To me, 'infinite' was the perfect word to describe that feeling that after this, his life is only going to get better. It is only going to go up".
With the film finally complete, Chbosky says he can't imagine a better experience. "The Saturday before we wrapped was like the last day of camp", he says. "Even the most hardened production veteran was crying, because they knew they were about to say goodbye to a unique moment. Landon Pigg sang this song called 'Something Brief,' about how these moments come and go and love comes and goes. We were in this little bar in Mount Lebanon and I looked across at everybody. There was Emma swaying to the music and Mae sitting next to her boyfriend. Ezra was crying his eyes out. We were all moved. I don't think anybody who was there that night will ever forget it, because that was like graduation for us.
"When I wrote the book, a few people read it and gave me some really smart comments, but it was primarily me alone in a room", Chbosky adds. "The film was created by hundreds of people. I'm so proud to be able to share this with everyone involved, including the fans. I wouldn't change a frame of it. We did it right and we did it with integrity. It is the proudest reflection of the book I could've made".
Logan Lerman (Charlie) has come of age in the entertainment industry with an impressive body of work. He maintains a fearless pursuit of challenging roles, evolving with each new project; fast becoming one of Hollywood's most in-demand young actors, for both independent and mainstream film. Lerman is currently in production on Darren Aronofsky's Biblical epic Noah opposite Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Douglas Booth and Emma Watson. Paramount will release the film in 2014. He recently wrapped production on Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters for Fox 2000 Pictures.
Lerman recently wrapped lensing Josh Boone's feature directing debut Writers with Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins, Nat Wolff, Liana Liberato and Kristen Bell. The film follows Bill Borgens (Kinnear), a prolific novelist who suffers a preoccupation with his ex-wife (Connelly). Lerman will portray Louis,' a writing student who pursues Samantha,' (Collins), Borgens' daughter. The film will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on September 9, 2012.
Lerman began his film career landing a role as the youngest son in Roland Emmerich's war drama The Patriot, opposite Mel Gibson. That same year, he appeared as the younger version of Gibson's adult character in Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy What Women Want. Additional film credits include Paul W.S. Anderson's The Three Musketeers, Chris Columbus' Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber's The Butterfly Effect; Will Schriner's Hoot; Joel Schumacher's The Number 23; Penny Marshall's Riding in Cars with Boys; James Mangold's critically-acclaimed remake of 3:10 to Yuma; Bernie Goldmann and Melisa Wallack's Meet Bill; Richard Loncraine's My One and Only; and Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor's Gamer.
On the small screen, Lerman made his mark in WB's dramatic series, Jack and Bobby, portraying 'Bobby McCallister,' in a show that followed the lives of two brothers as they went to high school and generally matured and one goes on to become President of the United States. Prior to that, Lerman appeared in the made-for-television film, A Painted House, winning him his first of three Young Artist Awards.
In the past year, Emma Watson (Sam) has broadened her impressive body of work, showing her versatility as a performer with her first screen roles following the recent completion of the Harry Potter series.
Emma recently wrapped production on Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring. The film is inspired by real events and follows a group of teenagers who, obsessed with fashion and fame, burgled the homes of celebrities in Los Angeles. The film will be released in 2013.
Emma is currently in production on Darren Aronofsky's Noah opposite Russell Crowe, Douglas Booth, Logan Lerman, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins. The film tells the epic, biblical tale of Noah (Crowe) and the ark. Emma will play the role of Ila, a young woman who develops a close relationship with Noah's son, Shem (Booth). Paramount Pictures will release the film in 2014.
Emma was most recently seen in Simon Curtis' My Week With Marilyn opposite Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Dame Judi Dench and Dominic Cooper. Chronicling a week in Marilyn Monroe's life, the film featured Emma in the supporting role of Lucy, costume assistant to Colin Clark (Redmayne). The film was released by The Weinstein Company on November 23, 2011 and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical.
Emma is best known for playing the iconic character of Hermione Granger in the eight enormously successful Harry Potter films. Her performance in the first film of the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, won her a Young Artist Award for Best Leading Young Actress. Emma also acquired two Critics' Choice Award nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association for her work in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The completion of the seventh and eight movies saw Emma receive nominations in 2011 for a Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award and for Best Actress at the Jameson Empire Awards. The Harry Potter franchise won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema in February 2011.
Emma's additional credits include the lead role of Pauline Fossil in the BBC adaptation of Noel Streatfield's classic, Ballet Shoes, which aired on BBC One on Boxing Day to 5.2 million viewers. In her first animated feature, Emma voiced over as the character Princess Pea in The Tale of Despereaux which grossed $86.2 million worldwide.
Further to her acting career, Emma is an ambassador for Lancôme, following in the footsteps of Penélope Cruz, Kate Winslet and Julia Roberts as the face of this celebrated brand. Emma has also worked with Fair Trade and organic clothing producer People Tree and collaborated with Alberta Ferretti on the organic Pure Threads collection.
Ezra Miller (Patrick) has built a reputation for fearlessness, comedic chops and the ability to hold his own opposite stars like Tilda Swinton, Andy Garcia and Liev Schreiber. Most recently, he starred in Lynne Ramsay's critically acclaimed drama We Need to Talk about Kevin, playing the title role opposite Swinton and John C. Reilly. The film premiered to rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival.
The actor made his 2008 screen debut in the harrowing prep school drama Afterschool, which screened at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and the 2009 Berlin Film Festival. The film garnered critical acclaim including nominations at both the Gotham Independent Film Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards. Next, Miller starred opposite Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies in Raymond De Felitta's City Island, which premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.
Other film credits include Sam Levinson's Another Happy Day with Ellen Barkin, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Bosworth and Demi Moore; Every Day, opposite Liev Schreiber, Helen Hunt, Carla Gugino, Brian Dennehy and Eddie Izzard; and Beware the Gonzo, Bryan Goluboff's directorial debut, in which Miller played the lead role.
When not shooting a film, Miller is no stranger to television. In 2008, he was seen in multiple episodes of Californication on Showtime. Additionally, he had a recurring role in the first two seasons of the hit USA Network series Royal Pains.
Mae Whitman (Mary Elizabeth) has steadily risen to become one of Hollywood's most respected young actresses with a versatility that has her starring across film and television, in both comedic and dramatic roles. Whitman currently stars in the critically acclaimed NBC series Parenthood, opposite Peter Krause and Lauren Graham. She plays the role of Amber Holt, a rebellious teen seeking to find herself. The show is executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.
Other recent television credits include a recurring role on HBO's In Treatment, opposite Gabriel Byrne and a guest appearance on Showtime's Weeds, with Mary-Louise Parker. On the big screen, Whitman co-tarred in Edgar Wright's action-comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World with Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman and Chris Evans. In the film, she plays Roxy Richter, a half-ninja artist and one of the "seven evil exes" that Scott Pilgrim (Cera) must defeat.
Acting from a very young age, Whitman booked her first commercial when she was not even four years old. A year later, she was cast in her first feature film, When a Man Loves a Woman, starring Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia. She went on to star in Independence Day, opposite Will Smith and Bill Pullman; One Fine Day, with George Clooney and Michelle Pfeifer; and Hope Floats, opposite Sandra Bullock, Gena Rowlands and Harry Connick, Jr.
Other film credits include Nights in Rodanthe, Boogeyman 2, Spring Breakdown, The Gingerbread Man, American Rhapsody, Going Shopping, Bondage and Bye Bye Love.
Whitman is well known to television audiences for playing Ann Veal on the Emmy® Award-winning series Arrested Development. She also starred in FX Network's Emmy® Award-winning miniseries Thief. Other small-screen credits include a series role on State of Grace, recurring roles onChicago Hope and JAG as well as guest spots on Grey's Anatomy, Justice, Desperate Housewives, Cold Case, Presidio Med, Century City, Judging Amy, Friends, Providence, Early Editionand the acclaimed PBS televised radio play, Merry Christmas, George Bailey.
Whitman has also been seen in a number of made-for-television movies including Death in Paradise, The Judds, Degree of Guilt, Invisible Child, After Jimmy, A Season for Miracles and Love's Abiding Joy.
Already a veteran voice actress, Whitman can be heard as the title character in Disney's latest animated franchise, Tinker Bell. She is also the voice of "April" in Nickelodeon's new animated seriesTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Other voice credits include Batman: The Brave and Bold, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, Glenn Martin DDS, Avatar: The Last Airbender, American Dragon, Jungle Book 2, Johnny Bravo, Teacher's Pet, Fillmore, The Wild Thornberries, Duckman, Superman and Max Steele. She also voiced the role of Yuffie in the bestselling video games Kingdom Hearts II and Final Fantasy VII.
Kate Walsh (Mother) currently stars as Dr. Addison Montgomery on the ABC drama "Private Practice, a spin-off of the hit show Grey's Anatomy where Walsh made her first appearance in 2005.
The enormous success of her character on "Grey's" led ABC, along with writer and creator Shonda Rimes, to create a spin-off based solely on her character, Addison. Private Practice also stars Amy Brenneman, Taye Diggs and Paul Adelstein. The show premiered in September of 2007 as the highest-rated new series of the season and debuted as the #1 show on Wednesday evenings. The show has continued its success and is recently wrapped its fifth season.
During her two seasons on Grey's Anatomy, the show received a SAG award for "Best Ensemble" in 2007 and received ensemble nominations from both the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 2006 and 2008, respectively. "Grey's" won the Golden Globe for "Best Television Series Drama" in 2007 and was nominated again the following year. The show also received Emmy® nominations for "Outstanding Drama Series" in 2006 as well as in 2007 and received three consecutive NAACP Image Awards for "Outstanding Drama Series" in 2006-2008.
On the big screen, Walsh was last seen in the supernatural thriller Legion starring opposite Paul Bettany and Dennis Quaid and Angels Crest opposite Thomas Dekker, Mira Sorvino and Jeremy Piven.
In the summer of 2010, Walsh returned to her theatre roots and appeared in an off-Broadway production of Dusk Rings A Bell alongside Paul Sparks and directed by Sam Gold. The play opened to rave reviews at New York's Atlantic Stage 2 and ran for approximately 6 weeks. In November of 2010, Walsh launched her own self-financed beauty company, Boyfriend®
In a partnered launch with the Home Shopping Network (HSN), Boyfriend® sold out in a record breaking 30 minutes. In February 2011, Walsh launched Boyfriend® with Sephora stores nationwide as the exclusive retail partner, where it climbed the ranks to become a Top 10 seller. Her second fragrance, Billionaire, launched on HSN and in Sephora February 2012.
Walsh began her acting career in Chicago where she studied at the renowned Piven Theatre Workshop. Walsh then starred in multiple theatre productions at the Shakespeare Repertory, including the critically acclaimed Born Guilty, Moon Under Miami and Troilus and Cressida.
Walsh then moved to New York and appeared on various shows, including series regular roles on The Mike O'Malley Show (ABC), Mind of a Married Man (HBO) and The Drew Carey Show (ABC).
In 2005, Walsh co-starred opposite Will Ferrell and Robert Duvall in the feature film Kicking and Screaming. Other film credits include Under the Tuscan Sun, After the Sunset and The Family Man.
Dylan Mcdermott (Father) A Golden Globe® winner and Emmy® nominee, Dylan McDermott has proven his talent in film, television and theatre.
McDermott was most recently seen in Jay Roach's comedy The Campaign, opposite Will Farrell and Zach Galifianakis. McDermott played Tim Wattley, a political consultant who runs the campaign of a candidate from South Carolina. The Warner Bros. film was released on August 10, 2012.
McDermott is currently filming Antoine Fuqua's Olympus Has Fallen, alongside Aaron Eckhart and Gerard Butler. The film follows a former Secret Service agent who becomes America's only hope when the President is taken hostage by terrorists. McDermott was also recently seen on television in the first season of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's FX drama American Horror Story" opposite Connie Britton and Jessica Lange.
In 2008, McDermott starred in Nicky Silver's Three Changes at Playwrights Horizons. Starring opposite Maura Tierney, the play follows an uncomfortably married Upper West Side couple. Additionally, in September 2006, McDermott was on stage in Eve Ensler's new play The Treatment. Ensler's play explored the relationship between a traumatized former military interrogator (McDermott) and his psychologist Colonel who is assigned to give him routine treatment. The play opened the Impact Festival 2006, a New York City-wide arts festival as part of the Culture Project. McDermott was nominated for a Drama League Award for his performance.
Additional film credits include The Pang Brother's The Messengers, Wonderland, Home for the Holidays, Steel Magnolias, Hamburger Hill, Miracle on 34th Street, In The Line of Fire and Burning Palms.
McDermott's television credits include the Jerry Bruckheimer produced TNT dramaDark Blue; TNT's dramatic limited series The Grid opposite Julianna Margulies; and David E. Kelley's Emmy Award-winning series The Practice, earning him a Golden Globe in 1999 and nominations in 2000 and 2001 as well as an Emmy® nomination in 1999. Other theatre credits include Neil Simon's production of Biloxi Blues on Broadway and Golden Boy directed by Joanne Woodward at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Nina Dobrev (Candace) returns this Fall for Season 4 of the CW's drama The Vampire Diaries from creator Kevin Williamson. Dobrev plays "Elena", a girl who falls in love with two vampire brothers, one good " the other evil. Dobrev also plays "Katherine" Elena's doppelganger, a vampire that the same brothers each loved while they were still human during the American Civil War. The series, which debuted in Fall 2009, is based on a popular Alloy book series of the same title and is currently the #1 show on the CW beating out Gossip Girl.
Dobrev was last seen in Screen Gems' The Roommate with Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly. Other past film credits include Montecito Pictures' Chloe with Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson , The Killing Game with Kellan Lutz and Samuel L. Jackson, Fugitive Pieces with Ayelet Zurer and Rosamund Pike, Away From Her with Julie Christie and The Poet.
Other television credits include lead roles on Degrassi: The Next Generation and MTV's The American Mall, as well as a guest appearance on Eleventh Hour. She has also appeared in the television movies Never Cry Werewolf and Too Young to Marry.
Johnny Simmons (Brad) is a compelling and critically acclaimed young actor whose credits span both television and feature film. Simmons recently wrapped production on director Atom Egoyan's The Devil's Knot, alongside Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth, which will be released next year. He also appears in the forthcoming comedy The To Do List, alongside Aubrey Plaza, Bill Hader and Andy Samberg.
Most recently Simmons was seen as the role of 'Billiam Willingham in the comedy hit 21 Jump Street, opposite Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. Last year Johnny was also seen in the Emmy®-nominated telefilm Cinema Verite, opposite Diane Lane, James Gandolfini and Tim Robbins. Other recent credits include The Conspirator, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Greatest, A Bag of Hammers, Jennifer's Body and Hotel for Dogs.
Paul Rudd (Mr. Anderson) will be returning to the Broadway stage this fall in Craig Wright's Grace starring opposite Michael Shannon, Kate Arrington and Edward Asner. Grace follows a wide"eyed young couple (Rudd and Arrington) as they start a new life in sunny, promise-filled Florida, with big plans to open a chain of Gospel motels. An agitated neighbor (Shannon) and a caustic exterminator (Asner) complete the foursome as destinies collide in this intensely entertaining and suspenseful journey. The play begins previews on September 13th and will open at the Shubert Theater on October 4th.
Rudd will next be seen starring in Judd Apatow's This Is 40 starring opposite Leslie Mann. The film is an original comedy that expands on the story of Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) from Knocked Up as we see first-hand how they are dealing with their current state of life. Knocked Up grossed over $300 million worldwide and was recognized by the People's Choice Award for Favorite Movie Comedy, was nominated for a Critics' Choice Award for Best Comedy Movie and was named one of AFI's Top Ten Films of the Year. Universal Pictures will release This Is 40 on December 21st.
Other upcoming features include starring opposite Amy Poehler in David Wain's They Came Together for Lionsgate, opposite Tina Fey in Paul Weitz's Admission for Focus Features and opposite Will Ferrell and Steve Carell in Adam McKay's Anchorman 2 for Paramount.
Rudd's other film credits include: Our Idiot Brother, I Love You, Man, Role Models (co-writer), The 40 Year Old Virgin, Anchorman, Wanderlust (producer), Dinner for Schmucks, How Do You Know, Monsters Vs. Aliens, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Ten (producer), Night at the Museum, Diggers, Reno 911, The Cider House Rules, The Object of My Affection, Wet Hot American Summer, The Chateau, Clueless and William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, among others.
On stage, Rudd starred opposite Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper in Richard Greenberg's Broadway production of Three Days of Rain. He also starred in Neil Labute's Bash in both New York and Los Angeles as well as Labute's The Shape of Things in London and New York. He made his West End debut in the London production of Robin Phillips' Long Days Journey Into Night opposite Jessica Lange.
Other stage credits include Nicholas Hynter's Twelfth Night at Lincoln Center Theater with a special performance which aired on PBS' Great Performances and in Alfred Uhry's Tony Award winning play, The Last Night of Ballyhoo. In television, Rudd was co-writer/co-creator of the critically acclaimed series Party Down on Starz. He also garnered wide recognition with a recurring role on the TV sitcom Friends as Mike Hannigan".
Erin Wilhelmi (Alice) is a talented actress and singer, making her big screen debut this September in Summit Entertainment's, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and this Fall, Erin will be playing Joelle in Playwright Horizon's The Great God Pan, beginning performances in October.
Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Erin has always been dedicated to working hard for what she aspires to be. Graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of Evansville with a BFA in Acting, she has much to be proud of. However, it was not until her sophomore year in high school when Erin realized that her role in acting was more than just a hobby, it was a dream. With the support and encouragement from both of her parents, Erin was determined to follow her heart.
Exposed to the arts at a young age, Erin will always hold a deep appreciation for theatre. When she was 10-years-old, she became mesmerized by the production of Forever Plaid at the Actor's Theatre of Louisville. Making her way in the industry, she was involved in Stephen Michael Walter's The Girl From Nashville, as well as New York productions of Fur, Folly of Crowds and Likeness. Additionally, Erin took part in The New Harmony Project for two seasons and grew to love the development of new plays. She's participated in NYC readings of new plays at The Lark, Ensemble Studio Theatre, New Dramatists and Primary Stages.
Erin's other acting credits include the upcoming independent films The English Teacher and Disconnect, as well as the short films Ebbe the Hunter, which was chosen as part of 2011's Nikon Film Festival and the student film Like Sugar on the Tip of My Lips (written and directed by Minji Kang) which won best student short in the Women's International Film and Arts Festival. Erin was also featured in band, Jimmy Eat World's music video for My Best Theory".
Along with acting, Erin is devoted to living a healthy lifestyle. Practicing yoga and eating right, she continues to embrace life with a 'go green' philosophy. In addition, Erin dedicates her time to organizations that protect the environment and its endangered species, particularly gorillas, as well as supporting organizations such as Results: The Power to End Poverty, Invisible Children and Amnesty International. She also enjoys listening to musical theatre soundtracks, some of her favorites include: Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera and Spring Awakening.
Reece Thompson (Craig), a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, made his feature film debut at the tender age of 13, in Lawrence Kasdan's horror/thriller Dreamcatcher. Shortly thereafter, Thompson became one of Canada's busiest young actors, working on many of the locally shot films and TV series.
In 2007, Thompson starred in the HBO/Picturehouse film, Rocket Science, in the role of stuttering "Hal Hefner" opposite Anna Kendrick. Rocket Science was the winner of the 2007 Sundance Dramatic Directing Prize and was also been nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards.
Thompson's critically acclaimed performance in Rocket Science helped him secure a starring role opposite Bruce Willis in the Yari film, Assassination of a High School President. Following Assassination of a High School President, Thompson went on to film the 2008 feature Afterwards, with John Malkovich and Romain Duris.
In 2010, Reece starred in three roles including Provinces of Night opposite Hilary Duff and Dwight Yoakam, Ceremony opposite Uma Thurman and Daydream Nation opposite Kat Dennings and Josh Lucas. Up next, Reece will be seen in starring in the independent feature, April Apocalypse, opposite Sarah Hyland.