“Harry Potter” star Emma Watson joined fellow cast members Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller on “Anderson Live” on Sept. 17 to discuss their highly-anticipated upcoming film, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” which is based on the critically acclaimed Young Adult novel (of the same name), written by Stephen Chbosky.
Host Anderson Cooper told Watson right away that he loves the movie and he feels she “owns the role” of Sam.
They discussed a scene where Sam is asking the lead character, Charlie (and novel narrator, played by Lerman), “Why do I, and everyone I love, pick people who treat us like we’re nothing?”
Charlie replies, “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
Cooper told Watson this line was an “Oprah aha!” moment for him, and Watson agreed that line in the script was a revelation. So, she lobbied really hard with a bunch of studios to get the film made.
Chbosky, who also directed and penned the screenplay for the film, was present in the audience. Cooper asked him what he wanted most for people to take away with them.
Chbosky said, “I wanted to make a movie that a teenage kid would love because it validates and respects what they’re going through. At the same time, it could be nostalgic for their parents. If these two groups can know that they love the same thing, I feel that maybe they can talk to each other a little bit more and we can realize a generation gap is nothing more than the conversation we haven’t had yet.”
The novel is a very poignant coming-of-age story about an introverted and often profound boy named Charlie who is entering high school in the wake of his best friend’s suicide. He deals with all kinds of teenage issues: general angst, uncertainty, his first serious crush, dating, and exploring sex and drugs.
Charlie’s life is forever changed when he meets the very beautiful and vivacious Sam and her brother Patrick (Ezra Miller). They are seniors and take him under their wing. The three teenagers form a very tight and lasting bond.
As their story unfolds, some very intense subject matter is addressed. For instance, Patrick is gay and is bullied and struggles with feelings for someone who doesn’t want to openly reciprocate.
Cooper (who recently came out) credited Chbosky for creating a character, in Patrick, who is gay but that is not what defines him.
He said, “So often in movies, gay characters are angst-ridden and victimized and this character, the fact that he’s gay is one part of his personality. But, that’s not what defines him. And he also stands up for himself. He’s just a really cool guy that everybody would wanna be friends with.”
Ezra Miller added, “To have a character in literature who stands up for himself and is not defined by his sexuality, is defined by his personality and his love for his friends and things like that is refreshing.”
Watson had to master an American accent for the film and her most difficult phrase was “Olive Garden.” She admitted her biggest challenge, after being entrenched in the role of Hermione for so many years – who is prim and proper and “buttoned up,” is that Sam is on the other end of the spectrum – running around in fishnet stockings and feather boas.
The story is set in 1992 and music is a huge part of the emotional landscape of the story and the characters. Some of the featured songs are: “Asleep” by The Smiths, “Scarborough Fair” by Simon and Garfunkel, “Blackbird,” “Something,” and “Dear Prudence” by The Beatles, “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, “Daydream” by The Smashing Pumpkins and “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II” by Pink Floyd to name a few.
Charlie also becomes close to his Advanced English teacher, Bill (Paul Rudd), who recognizes that Charlie is special, despite his emotional struggles. He gives Charlie several literary classics to read and write essays on (outside of his other classwork). Charlie falls in love with each of these books and relates to them for different reasons. They include: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “This Side of Paradise” and “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Naked Lunch” by William S. Burroughs and more.
Overall, the beautifully written and often heartbreaking story resonates with readers of all ages. High school is a rite of passage that we all endure and the friendships we make and the joy and the sorrow we experience impacts the rest of our lives in very important ways.
Anderson Cooper urged everyone to see this film. But, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is also a book that should be read and treasured. It’s a modern day classic and Charlie, Sam and Patrick are unforgettable characters who will stay locked in your heart even after you turn the last page.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” opens in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on September 21, 2012 with a wider release on Sept. 28.