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For any of the theater students in greater Boston (or anywhere in the world for that matter), it would be a dream come true to be featured in a role alongside Zac Efron in a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. This dream came true for Taylor Schilling, who grew up in West Roxbury and Weymouth and got cast in a lead role alongside Efron in "The Lucky One", set to be released this Friday. SUMOSkinny got the chance to join in on a roundtable interview with her - read on and learn about this rising star before she becomes the talk of the town.
(Photo by flickr user wigshairmakeup)
Q. How was the Q&A last night, bringing it back to where you’re from?
A. (Taylor Schilling): It was a dream come true for me to bring it back to where I’m from and share it with the people that I love.
Q. Well, this movie's got an edge to it that you don’t see in most romantic movies, and I was kind of comparing it to a 50’s melodrama, like a Douglas Sirk movie or something – people are getting killed, and it’s really operatic, and I really dug that.
A. There’s something about Nicholas Sparks that works so well is that he embraces it, he embraces what he does and he does it the best. I think there’s something operatic about it. I think when you can fully embrace the experience of it, there’s nothing like it.
Q. Do you think that after seeing it on screen that Mark Isham’s music added to how dramatic it was?
A. Absolutely. I’m so bummed that I wasn’t able to see the whole thing with you guys. I came in right after the scene in the rose garden, which I really wanted to see. From what I gathered, music makes such a difference. He did such a spectacular job with that score.
(Photo by flickr user Thefanboyseo1)
Q. I was actually curious if it’s that tough to act when half the movie, most of your job is to stare lovingly at Zac Efron. Do you have to really force some personality into it? Because it works, it does.
A. I think there are worse things in the world than to stare lovingly at Zac Efron. What was exciting is that there’s a lot going on with Beth, there’s a lot happening for her in every scene. So there’s a lot for me to sink my teeth into and explore in terms of her arc in every scene that Zac and I had together, so I never felt like I was just sort of filling time.
Q. 90% of romantic movies we see nowadays, it’s like the woman has had no life prior to when the movie starts. In this one, you actually have a history – you’ve got a kid and a brother – how’d you play off that?
A. That was one of the things that I connected to immediately when I read the script – that she is a woman dealing with things that I think women right now are dealing with. It’s quite current, the idea of being a working single mom and really just putting yourself on the back burner of it to do the best that you can by your family. I think it makes it so exciting and dramatic for me as an actor, I can see why she had all these guards up, why she was so resistant. Dealing with all of the loss she’s experienced and dealing with all of her responsibilities, it was not a dramatic device that she was so resistant to him coming in. She’s an actual fully flushed out woman – it’s thrilling.
I had an acting teacher once say that acting was like peas in pea soup – you can’t really extract yourself fully from the “goop” it becomes. Like, what’s the difference between peas and pea soup? They’re the same thing, just… different. You know what I mean?
Q. Jay (Ferguson) and Zac (Efron) played completely different characters. When Jay would come to the screen, there was a certain sense of uneasiness and then Zac would come on and it was a lot more relaxed. Is that how they are in real life, is that just they way they were playing their characters or are they completely opposite from that?
A. Jay Ferguson, the guy who played Keith, is one of the most loving, funny, juvenile guys you would ever meet. Between takes, he would be showing me cool music, and we would be downloading things - well, music, not things. He’s a dad in real life and he’s got a beautiful wife… I mean, he’s the opposite of Keith. There’s that, and it’s fun to have that relationship on set because I felt so comfortable with him as a person that it was really safe to go to these darker places with him because I felt really comfortable around him. He was just Jay.
And then Zac is just a dear friend. He’s very easygoing and he’s just a real pleasure to work with. So, I think that as we became better friends, it just got easier and easier. But it was just like that right when we had our first screen test.
Q. Did Blythe Danner provide you with inspiration? Because, she’s also from a theater background like you are.
A. Yes, absolutely! The second most exciting moment of this process was, well first when I got the call I was like “I got the part aaahhh,” just freaking out. And then finding out that she was going to play my grandmother, I flipped my lid! She’s amazing, she’s totally amazing and I just cherish her.
Q. What Blythe really brings to the movie is it’s got this southern flavor to it. So I was kind of curious, you’re from the northeast, and how’d you adapt to that? Because I was kind of surprised when I found out you’re from here, I was like “Oh, I kind of expected she’d be from Georgia or something.”
A. Really? (Fist pump) Score one for the team!
Q. As you kind of mentioned earlier, you know, they don’t glam you up entirely, and I’ve spent some time in the south and people don’t look like “Gossip Girl” down there.
A. No, not at all! Definitely, it was such a gift that they let us do that. It lends so much integrity to the project that Beth could be like that. Also I think that shooting on location, shooting in Louisiana, I think I was there for four or five months, and I really made a conscious effort to sort of let that culture seep in and let go of New York and Boston as much as I could.
(Photo by flickr user Services for the UnderServed)
Q. What do you think about the message of the movie? About destiny, choosing your destiny?
A. Well, I certainly think that there’s some kind of a guiding force in my life. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but it feels to me that there’s something more than me and that I can kind of trust that. I have to kind of keep my side of the street clean and show up to the opportunities that are presented to me, but there’s something that if I kind of take my hands off the steering wheel - I’m in the right place at the right time.
And to that end, I think that there’s this really nice message in the movie that it’s ok that we can find our voice, that we can walk through what scares us the most, and that by virtue of using your fear as sort of a barometer by walking through your fear, that’s where the treasure lies. So instead of backing off of it, you know, Beth was able to find her voice and she was able to acknowledge her worth and stand up for herself eventually and open herself up to love again. We’re all capable of that exactly as we are right now, exactly as you are you’re worthy of love. I think that’s a message I will stand behind forever and ever.
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