Will Gluck is Not a Gossip
EMMA STONE IN EASY A
In Easy A, opening tomorrow nationwide, director Will Gluck gives Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter a modern update. Instead of Hester Prynne in puritanical Boston, he gives us Olive–a long-legged high-schooler in skinny jeans fighting for her reputation in the retina-burningly bright Ojai, California. While it's rife with high school movie clichés–a boy next door, a scorned best friend, and a culminating musical number–Gluck embraces the trappings of the genre and creates a film original and self-aware enough not to be derivitive.
In a break-out performance for actress Emma Stone, Olive is precocious without being cloying as she embraces her false rep as the school slut, before ultimately teaching herself and her friends a little life lesson. With great turns by a supporting cast of pretty young things, along with established older actors like Patricia Clarkson and a distractingly buff and tan Stanley Tucci as Olive's parents, Easy A is a pleasure. Gluck called from an airport in Canada, where he's filming Friends with Benefits to talk about John Hughes, Stone's star turn, and how reputation-trashing and gossip happen everywhere, maybe even on his own movie sets...
BREE MCKENNEY: Before we talk about Easy A... how is filming going on Friends With Benefits?
WILL GLUCK: It's going great, we were in New York before this and everything is going really well. We have an amazing cast: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Patricia Clarkson, again. Andy Samberg, Jenna Elfmann.
MCKENNEY: What attracted you to Easy A in the first place?
GLUCK: I was given the first draft of the script that Sony bought, and I liked it, and I said, "this is good, I want to do this," and was told "oh no we didn't give it to you to direct it, we just wanted your opinion" and I said "too bad–I've got it now." And then I rewrote it, and cast Emma Stone as Olive after totally falling in love with her in her audition, and that all came together incredibly fast.
MCKENNEY: So Emma Stone was always your first choice for Olive, the main character?
GLUCK: Always. I had all the actors go home after their auditions and record a video diary, because Olive does that in the movie, and send it over to me. I had hers four hours later and I walked it over to the network and said, "here's your Olive."
MCKENNEY: There are so many references to other teen movies in Easy A–why did you make that choice?
GLUCK: In real life nowadays, kids define themselves by pop culture, but in so many movies and TV shows the teens act as if they live in a bubble. It was really important to me to that the characters have real cultural references, and that they acknowledge that they know this isn't a new story, and their lives are framed by real pop culture.
MCKENNEY: Are teens today really referencing John Hughes movies? I hope so, but...
GLUCK: I guess that's me, I suppose to be accurate I should have been calling on some early '90s teen movies, but I just don't care about those. I'm a huge John Hughes fan, I love John Hughes–I didn't care.
MCKENNEY: The structure of Olive's family is interesting in the film–the parents are super witty and relaxed. Patricia Clarkson's character was so fun and laid-back, I wanted to hang out with her.
GLUCK: Here's the thing: I made a point that I never wanted Olive's family gathered around the dinner table. Families these days just don't do that, which doesn't mean they're not a strong, loving unit. So they are non-traditional but traditional in their support. These parents allow Olive to make her own mistakes.
MCKENNEY: Was it a conscious choice to fill the supporting cast with so many young actors (Penn Badgley from Gossip Girl, Cam Gigandet from Twilight, Amanda Bynes) who already had their own, probably obsessive, teen following?
GLUCK: No, I just cast them because they were good. I think it's exciting to see young actors like Amanda Bynes in roles that were unlike what she's done before.
MCKENNEY: You've said that this movie isn't really about the high school experience.
GLUCK: Yeah, when we screened it for the international press the overwhelming response was how universal the story was, because it's really about reputation. Rumors about sexuality, gossip, the ubiquity of Facebook and Twitter, these things are not specific to high school, this same story could happen in an office, among a group of friends. These things happen all the time on movie sets.
MCKENNEY: Oh yeah? Can you tell any stories about that?
GLUCK: No, no I don't think I can!