'The Preppie Connection' Clip: Thomas Mann's High-School Drug Dealer Had "Quite a Trip" to Colombia
Check out the exclusive poster and a scene from Joseph Castelo's based-on-a-true-story film, which features the 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' star as a working-class prep school student using cocaine to make friends.
"Must've been quite a trip, kid."
With these remarks, in the above clip from The Preppie Connection, a stern customs agent seems to let a prep-school drug dealer back into the U.S. even after the agent holds and quickly examines a small statue containing cocaine.
The film, based on a true story, stars Me and Earl and the Dying Girl's Thomas Mann as Toby Hammel, a working-class student at the elite Sage Hall prep school who finds he's able to get in with his more privileged classmates by supplying them with cocaine, using his connections to give them what they want.
In fact, at the point in the movie shown in the scene above, with Toby talking to a customs agent as he returns from Colombia, director Joseph Castelo says the lead character "has actively begun to manipulate his friends towards the end of getting cocaine."
Specifically, Toby used his trip with his friend Fidel, who he tells the agent has family down there, to smuggle drugs back into the states.
"He's gone down to Colombia, to Fidel's house, and while Fidel thought they were just getting a little bit of coke to party with, in actuality, Toby had bigger plans," Castelo tells The Hollywood Reporter. "That character believes he couldn't let Fidel in on it because Fidel would crumble coming across customs and probably would have stopped him from doing it in the first place. He used Fidel's desire to be in that inner circle to get him to go along with it in the first place. So in a way, [Fidel] wants to be accepted too. He's an alienated student at Sage Hall and Toby uses that."
After casually explaining the "purpose of his trip," Toby hands over a statue, which the customs agent looks at, revealing some white powder on the side. Indeed, the drugs are in it.
"He finds a creative way to smuggle cocaine back in, which is consistent with how the actual character did it, because his whole philosophy was hiding things in plain sight," Castelo says. "He's certainly daring, the way the U.S. customs agent holds the statue with coke in it right in front of him."
When the agent asks him what he did in Colombia, the scene flashes back to Toby in Colombia asking the same question in a voiceover. After his friend leaves the room, Toby, sitting on a bed, reaches down and detaches packets of cocaine from around his ankle. He collapses on the bed and casually tosses the drugs into the air. Back with the customs agent, who repeats the question, Toby stammers a bit before saying, "I lost my virginity."
The movie, which is set to have its world premiere at the Hamptons Film Festival on Oct. 10, co-stars Sam Page and Logan Hoffman and Lucy Fry (Vampire Academy) as Toby's love interest.
"It's a very personal film for me," Castelo tells THR of the project. "I went to boarding school in the '80s and much of what we tried to do is make the film feel very verite, almost like a documentary peering over the shoulder of this character as he was doing it. We wanted to make you feel like some of the literature and music from that time has an '80s alternative ennui to it. It's a very layered film, the memory as well and we just wanted to have that layered into the aesthetics, the music, the soundtrack is covered by a lot of bands now and we always wanted that feeling of looking back in time at that period."
Castelo praises Mann as "such a smart actor," explaining that he's easily able to convey what's going on in his characters' minds.
"He doesn't really have to do much for the audience to see what's going on in his mind," Castelo says. "He's always processing. … That's the most interesting thing about him as an actor. He has the smallest, most subtle expression and you can read subtext of the scene and you can see what's going on. It gives you a flash of the interior of any character he's playing."
Castelo also notes that Mann has "a very innocent face."
"Thomas Mann has the kind of face where I think he could smuggle a lot of drugs without getting messed up, he looks so innocent," Castelo adds.
Check out the Preppie Connection poster, a THR exclusive, below.