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In the middle of a quaint but busy red carpet for the premiere of The Spectacular Now at Los Angeles’ Vista Theatre, there was a loud resounding snap. Then a cry.
“I just broke my heel,” Shailene Woodley exclaimed. “Am I the first person ever to do that?”
However, just moments later, the 21-year old actress had calmed. Woodley, sporting a H.O.W.L. (Handle Only With Love) dream catcher necklace from Venice, Calif., boutique Lefthouse, literally took the situation in (barefoot) stride.
She rejoiced: “Does that mean I get to be barefoot for the rest of the night? Yes! This is such good news. Let’s continue!”
And such was the relaxed, celebratory attitude at the L.A. premiere for The Spectacular Now. The final stop on a long press tour for the actors, beginning at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the event Tuesday night had the air of a family reunion as the gathered cast and crew posed for numerous pictures together and repeated again and again how close they were.
That much is clear when speaking to Miles Teller, whose Sutter is the protagonist of the film and the troubled love interest of Woodley’s Aimee. Teller and Woodley received the Special Jury Award for Acting at Sundance for their performances in the film.
When asked if his hard-partying roles in Project X, 21 and Over and this most recent film should indicate anything about what he likes to do in his free time, he joked, “As a person, it says I’m a working actor and that I keep working. I don’t dislike the party scene. I guarantee at this afterparty tonight, it’s me and my friends that are in the middle of the floor dancing, taking shots and having a good time. We don’t shy away from that.”
The film, written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber ((500) Days of Summer), has been marketed and presented as a throwback to the romantic teen flicks unique to the ’80s, such as Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. Ponsoldt said he certainly had that era of films in mind when shooting The Spectacular Now last year in Georgia.
“I saw Say Anything when I was pretty young, and it meant a lot to me,” the director recalls. “Those movies respected the kids’ emotional inner lives. They don’t pander or condescend. The reasons we keep watching these movies is because they actually identify and advocate for these kids instead of looking down on them or looking back in a sappy, sentimental or snarky, mean-spirited way.”
Inside the elaborately decorated Vista Theatre, which Ponsoldt noted was his “favorite movie theater in L.A.,” co-producer Andrew Lauren professed the same sentiment to the packed house.
“When I was growing up in the ’80s, I got so excited to wait on line for those movies,” he said. “Why don’t they make those movies anymore? We hope that you can help us spread the word that this genre is not dead!”
The recurring theme of The Spectacular Now is how to balance living vicariously in the present, or a “spectacular now,” and preparing for an uncertain future. When asked if the cast and crew still feel like they are living in a “spectacular now,” there generally was no sure answer.
“I live in the spectacular now every single day,” Woodley unabashedly proclaimed as she stood sans shoes or socks on a worn red carpet. “Life is amazing!”
Mused Ponsoldt: “I think I have a little more perspective on it. I think I try to be more considerate, a little more aware. I actually do think about the future whenever I make a choice. I do think how it’s going to affect the people around me in a way that I wouldn’t have when I was a teenager.”
Teller explained, “It’s been a decent amount of time since high school and teenhood, but I’m absolutely taking everything that’s coming to me in the moment. I realize that when I was first starting out I was like, ‘I just need one movie and I’ll get that movie and then I’ll be there. I’ll do the things I wanna do,’ but that’s just not the case. It takes a long time.
“I’ve done a few movies that I thought were gonna do well that didn’t. But I’ve never been more invested in wanting a film to do well than this one.”
The film also stars Brie Larson, Dayo Okenlyi, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Bob Odenkirk and Kyle Chandler.
The A24 feature will be released in theaters Aug. 2.
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