'Jem and the Holograms' Director Teases Modern Movie About "Stay[ing] True to Who You Really Are"
'USA Today' debuted a handful of photos from the buzzy music film, directed by Jon M. Chu and starring 'Nashville's' Aubrey Peeples and 'The Boy Next Door's' Ryan Guzman.
Jem and the Holograms may have been an '80s cartoon and toy line, but the upcoming live-action movie is a modern story with timeless themes about identity, director Jon M. Chu told USA Today, which released a handful of photos on Monday from the Universal film that's slated to hit theaters Oct. 23.
"It's actually about a group of young people who are going to be inundated with this idea of fame and fortune and products and stuff, and within all that, how do you stay true to who you really are?" said Chu. "That's the real soul of the movie."
The film follows Jerrica Benton (Nashville's Aubrey Peeples) as she transforms from a shy musician into the pink-haired pop star Jem. Since it was her father who taught her guitar and would call Jerrica the name that would become her onstage alter ego, she's scared to use her voice after he dies. But after she's discovered, she embraces Jem as a way to take care of her family, including her sister, Kimber (Stefanie Scott), and foster siblings Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana (Aurora Perrineau), who make up the Holograms.
"She never wanted to pursue the big costumes, lots of makeup, all that stuff," Peeples said of Jerrica's transformation. "But, in a way, it helps her hide and have the confidence to come out and be this persona."
Chu added: "We see the transformation as she gets brought into it, getting seduced by it and, at the same time, trying to find her real self in between those two identities."
Molly Ringwald plays Jerrica's guardian, Mrs. Bailey; The Boy Next Door's Ryan Guzman co-stars as love interest Rio; and Juliette Lewis is Starlight Music record exec Erica Raymond and the film's main antagonist. Jason Blum and Scooter Braun are producing the movie, with Justin Bieber's well-connected manager helping to score original songs for the movie.
Chu said he initially was puzzled by how to do a movie about a secret identity in 2015 — before he realized that the '80s cartoon had a modern concept.
Said Chu: "It dawned on us: Wait, everybody has a secret identity. The idea of 'Who are you, really?' is more relevant today than ever. That's what inspired me to say, 'Let's roll the dice and try to make this movie.' "
Peeples Instagrammed one of the Jem photos below.