‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ centers on 15-year-old Charlie (Logan Lerman), an endearing and naive outsider, coping with first love (Emma Watson), the suicide of his best friend, and his own mental illness while struggling to find a group of people with whom he belongs. Co-starring the likes of Ezra Miller, Paul Rudd, Dylan McDermott, Kate Walsh and Mae Whitman. Stephen Chbosky writes and directs the adaptation of his own highly acclaimed young adult novel of the same name. ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is released in cinemas today in the US and October 3rd in the UK. My previous interview with Emma Watson for ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ can be read here.
Speaking to you before, I know the script for ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘ really grabbed you. But what was it like meeting Stephen Chbosky for the first time, the person who wrote the book, wrote the script and was going to direct the film?
Emma Watson: Yeah. I read ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘ script having not ever read the book before, and I just loved it – it made me cry, I laughed hysterically and it really really spoke to me. So I said, “I’d love to meet Stephen,” and my agent said, “The problem is, the writer who wrote the script and the book wants to direct it, he’s a first time director. How do you feel about that?” I was like, “Well, I’ll just meet him and see how it goes.” And the minute I met Stephen, any fear that I had about this being his directorial debut just kind of vanished. He knew how he wanted to shoot ever single shot of this move. He had been dreaming about making it for 10 years, he had every little thing planned down to the finest detail. And he has such passion for it, how he saw it as a movie and not just as a book – that was so inspiring.
We really connected, I feel like if I was in High School, Stephen would have been my Charlie, for sure (laughs). We got on really well and it was just so amazing to me to be on a movie with someone who has so much knowledge of the world that you’re inhabiting, someone who can give you an anecdote if you’re ever struggling to find something in a scene. He was the source of the whole thing, the source of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ so I was spoilt really, I’m going to turn up at other movies and be like, “I’m sorry, where’s the author of the story….and the script?” (Laughs) It was a real luxury.
How was it for you when you first met up with the cast and crew in Pittsburgh, where ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘ was going to film? Especially considering how important the connections between the characters are in the film….
Emma Watson: It’s funny because I came from Paris, I had just done some work for Lancôme and I got on the plane and arrived in Pittsburgh, and the Crowne Plaza, which was the Hotel that we were staying in, it’s situated in the middle of a huge parking lot, and I was like, “Oh my God, where am I?” And the minute I met Ezra Miller and Logan Lerman and Johnny Simmons and Mae Whitman, everyone, I just realised that this was going to be the scene and setting of one of the best summers of my life. We shut down the whole of the ground floor of the Plaza, we opened all of the interconnecting doors in our Hotel and we played music and cooked dinners and we shared clothes, stories….we just bonded in a way that you don’t really get to bond unless you’re on location with a cast and crew.
It was really special, everyone was allowed to be themselves and totally free and completely accepted. It was very much mimicking what was happening in the film, which I think was part of Stephen’s master to plan (laughs). He knew that the story was about making connections, and he needed us as a group of people to connect. We all hit it off, I was averaging 3 hours sleep a night because we would film ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘ all day together, then we would want to stay up all night together, it was that kind of an experience. Stephen grew up in Pittsburgh. It’s his hometown, it’s 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.
The book has really struck a chord with people, is there something you hope people take away from this movie, this story?
Emma Watson: I just think the world would be a better place if there were more people like Charlie, who is so compassionate and empathetic and non-judgemental and accepting. Everyone has a story, and people tend to judge and interpret behaviour without going to the source of that behaviour. They say that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future, and it’s so true. I don’t know, people can change and people make mistakes and people are human, and you kind of need to love them for that. I hope that people take that away, finding a way to love their imperfections and love themselves. Really you can’t truly accept other people until you accept yourself, and you can’t really accept yourself until you accept other people. It kind of all goes weirdly hand in hand. And when you show kindness and compassion for yourself, then you’re able to extend it. It’s all inextricably linked. So I think it would be that.
Each of the characters face a crisis in ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ yet at the same time that’s juxtaposed with humour….
Emma Watson: Yeah. 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 like you said, it’s always juxtaposed with something humorous, so hopefully we will make audiences laugh and cry in equal measure (laughs).
How did you find the 1991 setting of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘ for a story like this?
Emma Watson: I think it’s funny because my generation feels that with Twitter, social networking, they feel that everything has changed and everything is so different, and it’s very easy to feel alone and very misunderstood. And actually what this movie shows is that it’s the same issues, it’s the same stuff, it’s just playing out in different forums and in different ways and through different media. But it’s all the same stuff really, which I think is kind of interesting. And I think the movie, because it’s set in roughly 1991, it certainly gave me enough distance watching it that I didn’t think someone was “trying to be me“, or trying to be me and my friends. So it never felt awkward or not right. But then it’s also close enough that I felt it was really speaking to me. It’s a nice throwback to when there wasn’t iPhones and Twitter and tonnes of social media (laughs), it’s kind of like back to a simpler time – but there’s no such thing (laughs).