The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a funny and touching coming-of-age story based on the beloved best-selling novel by Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a modern classic that captures the dizzying highs and crushing lows of growing up. Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a moving tale of love, loss, fear and hope-and the unforgettable friends that help us through life.
With The Perks of Being a Wallflower opening in cinemas on Wednesday to rave reviews, The Fan Carpet's Marc Jason Ali was in attendance at the Mayfair Hotel, where the lovely Emma Watson talked about her new coming of age drama with Edith Bowman moderating.
The film reminds me of things like The Breakfast Club and other classic films like that, do you think that's what Chris was aiming for?
Definitely, when we first met, he had this sort of bible, all of his ideas from the book and he knew exactly how he wanted to shoot every shot and there were tonnes of John Hughes references in there. He really wanted it to feel quirky and real but to also have that classic feel about it, and that's why he didn't go too far on the nineties garb; it was there, you could feel it, but he didn't go crazy.
In preparation, did you watch any of those kinds of films?
Yeah, I watched Dazed and Confused and he had me watch Harold Moore, and The Breakfast Club and all of those, partly for accent and partly for feel.
Did you read the book first or the script first?
I read the script first and the book second, my American friends berated me saying 'you are so far behind, how can you not have read it?' but I took to the book quickly and realised there is an amazing cult following of people who care about it.
I was in Pittsburgh and this girl came up to me with a tattoo of one of Steve's quotes and that was when I realised that this was kind of a big deal, again really putting pressure on myself to get it right.
It's amazing and nice to know that we can't go too far wrong, since he wrote the book and is directed the film, even if it's not exactly the same; and it's never exactly the same as what's written in the book, but the spirit would be the same.
Do you think it makes a difference, that it's his whole thing?
Definitely, Pittsburgh where he grew up, the book is autobiographical; some parts of it, it was amazing to have him, if I was ever stuck on a scene and I needed help to capture a specific moment, to have him tell me about that specific moment in his life and how it impacted him, what the line meant to him and whatever else, it was incredibly moving to hear him talk out his life, what it meant to him.
So yeah, I feel spoilt really, going onto my future films, I'll be like 'excuse me where's the author of the book or script? I need to speak to him personally now about what I'm about to do.'
No it was amazing.
Is there a real Sam? Did you meet her?
There is a real Sam, I didn't meet her, but she is a real person.
It's a coming of age film and you've had a coming of age in the public eye, how did that inform your performance as Sam?
I don't know how being in the public eye would've helped me with Sam, it was quite the opposite really; the life that I had outside of the public eye which helped me with Sam, and I did try my best to live my adolescence behind closed doors as far as I possibly could.
I think I managed that pretty well; I went back to school between filming, I sat my GCSE's, I sat my A-Level's, I went to University, so it's really those experiences that informed her.
You've had the privilege of being educated both here and America, what are the mayor differences? In America they seem to pile pressure on their children at a younger age, is that what you found?
Actually, I would've said the opposite, in America you have four years to complete your degree, here we have three, although we encourage a gab year. But the biggest difference I would say is that with an American education encourages you to broaden yourself out and concentrate later on, where as here we are encouraged to make decisions about our career early on, so even as early as GCSE's in this country and you wanted to go into Medicine or whatever else, you need to choose to take Chemistry or Biology or whatever else.
Where as in America I was able to take four subjects a semester and they could be whatever choice I wanted, as long as I formed some concentration out of them. So I'm majoring in English Literature, but I've taken classes in Psychology, History and Art and French and all sorts, I think that was one of the appeals for me; I knew my course wouldn't be a vocational course, I knew I wasn't going to study Law, but that I wanted to know about as many different things as I possible could because I was interested.
Is it true you told your agent not to send you scripts?
I did, I did, but somehow Perks made it under the door, she said 'I really think you should read this one' and I had been reading things, but Perks was the first one to really light a fire under me. I was like 'Oh, I think it could be really important to make this film, this could really make a difference to a young person watching it.'
It felt quite special somehow.
What was it? The story? The character? The subject matter?
It's true, I think there's so much made about this period in people's lives; when you come of age or when you're in high school, there's so many teenage TV series and movies and whatever else that people would be sick of hearing about this one felt to me really honest and authentic, and it didn't glamourise the situation, it didn't patronise it or sensationalise it.
It was amazing, I'd look at Steve and go 'you remember so clearly what it was like to be this age, it's kind of amazing'. And just the honestly, and that it isn't afraid to touch on subjects that are difficult, I think that was one of the difficultties in getting the film made, was that the film deals with things that people would rather not talk about, almost like taboo subjects.
It's one of the most banned books in America, many State libraries will not stock this book, so that was fascinating to me because I had the privilege of having a background where I had a much more open minded and accepting background, that was a real shock and it was a shock that no one wanted to make it. I had to sort of bang on people's doors to get it made, so it's interesting.
While making the film, did you ever feel you missed out on anything?
It made me very aware that my life has been very different, it's definitely been unusual, I'd almost say that my life has been done backwards slightly. There are certain parts in my development which are happening at different times and in different orders. At times that's felt lonely, but generally I just feel privileged to have so much and so many different experiences.
Really the film just made me happy, because I realised that I had been doing something for more than half my life that I wanted to continue doing, I really loved making the film and I really love acting, it's what I want to do.
So it made me quite grateful that I have a platform that allows me to do that in the way that I want to, and it was happy because I got to have a lot of the experiences that I wouldn't have got to have, and in a more exotic way because I got to go to the football games and I don't know many English girls that get to go to prom and yo know it was fun.
How was it working with Logan on this and returning together for Noah and also were you attached to an Oscar Wilde biopic?
I wasn't attached to it, I seem to be attached to so many strange projects at the moment, which I have no idea, and that I don't know much about. Unless it's confirmed that I'm going to be in it. People get attached to things all the time.
Oscar Wilde's awesome, I collect many of his quotes, he says many wise things.
With Logan, yeah walking onto set and knowing you're doing an Aronofsky movie and Russell Crowe's there and Anthony Hopkins is arriving in a few days, I really felt the gravity of it, it felt like a very big thing to be doing and to have Logan there who I could share that 'are you really nervous? Yes I'm really nervous. Great at least we're in the same boat'. To have that support and a bit of continuity as well, working with new people all the time can get a bit disorientating, so it's nice to be working with the same person again, I lucked out, it worked out really well.
Music plays a large role in the film, there was music on set, what sort of music do you like and what role does it play in your life?
Well one of the first things Steve did when he met me was to give me a mix tape - his own mix tape. And then throughout the movie, we as a cast all made music together, I sing, Eza also sings and plays the drums and Logan plays the piano. Mae Whitman is musical, so all of us, most nights, we would sit and play music - so that was really fun.
When we were doing the tunnel scene we did actually have music playing, it's rare on a movie set - because they put the music in later, but with this some music was playing.
But Steve insisted that all three of us, well four of us, chose the song we would listen to going through the tunnel - and it was Happiness - a song called Happiness and yeah it was really important.
I listened to The Smiths a lot before we started shooting. No it was very, very important.
What did you all sing in your little band? It sounds awesome!
Our band, tentatively, was called Octopus Jam, I don't know how we came up with the title but it was tentatively Octopus Jam, and Logan's a classical composer - he actually composed a piece of music for his part and he composed a piece of music for me and for Ezra - so he's very talented. He was more classical.
And then Ezra's more rock n' roll, and I was somewhere in the middle sort of just doing my own thing really.
Would you like to do The Rocky Horror Show for real?
Yeah, definitely, it was great fun. I mean I have big shoes to fill - Susan Sarandon - she's quite wonderful, don't turn that into 'Emma Watson is looking to do The Rocky Horror Show' which I know is what you all do. But I has a good time doing it. I was having the best time, the best time.
Given your unique up bringing, was there a relationship that you identified with, that you could latch on to?
I have a brother, a step brother called David, who reminded me of my relationship with Patrick in the film. Because we are the same age - we sat our GCSE's together, we sat our A-Level's together, we very much gave each other moral support during that time.
And then just the close friends I have really - I don't know who this quotes by but it's 'the friends you can call at three o'clock in the morning are the ones that really count' and I'm lucky to have a few of those.
So I just drew on that and also the people who believe in me; the people who believe in you are the pope who lift you up. It's important to have people around you that do that.
Have you got a favourite scene from the film?
For experience wise I love the tunnel scene, cause I love remembering what it was like to do that, and it was incredible, I felt like I was flying. I was so pumped up with adrenaline and it was so beautiful. Very memorable to me, regardless of the film.
The scene that I love to watch back and the scene I loved reading in the script was where Sam wants to give Charlie the perfect first kiss. Because her first kiss kind of sucked and most people's first kisses aren't always great. It's not always how you picture things, so I thought it was great and beautiful that she wanted to make sure that it was perfect. That really touched me.
There are so many quotable lines in the film, and emotional where you could laugh at the beginning of a sentence and be crying at the end. Was it a different experience than you have had previously?
Yeah, it was a much smaller crew, smaller budget, we did a lot. My two biggest scenes we shot in one day - the one's that I consider to be the most emotional - where I kiss Charlie and the scene at the end of the film where I'm just about to leave - we shot all of that in one day.
And I'm used to, you know on Harry Potter where to shoot one sequence in the period of like three weeks, so it was nerve-racking for Steve to give me one or two takes, you know. Or three takes so I really had to have a lot of faith in him and trust that it was all going to work out ok.
And it's nice working with a smaller group of people, you really band together and you sort of - everyone's really involved, well you have to be. We worked crazy hours on it, by the end of the movie I was just so tired, I was not even functioning properly, it was very exhilarating.
You've been attached to 50 Shades of Grey, and it's quite saucy, is it something you'd be comfortable with or something you'd shy away from?
I don't know how many times I have to reiterate this, I must have said it in like twenty interviews now, but I am not attached to it. I don't know why this keeps coming up again and again. It's flattering in the sense that people are excited to see what I do in the future but I just don't know where this thing has come from.
It's mental, I can't seem to shake it - I haven't read the book, I haven't been sent the script, I haven't been approached, I don't know what more I can say.
Also I've been saying since I was sixteen, hat if it's right for the part and for the character development, then of course I'll do it if it's important to the story, I'll do it, because I'm an actress and that's it really.
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THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER IS OUT ON WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 3