Surprise! Interview with Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky

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Hi Everyone! I’m writing this blog to celebrate the premiere of the “Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky. As many of you many know, I am a student journalist for Blueprint Magazine. A few weeks ago my Editor-In-Chief, Alexandra Dersch, got the honor of interviewing Chbosky (with a few other journalists). This (extremely long) interview has been not been seen by many people so you individually will get an exclusive look into the making of Perks as well as the life of Chbosky! So without further ado, I present to you a look at the interview!

Q. What was your inspiration for writing the book in the first place?

A. “My inspiration for writing the book – when I was a little younger, I was going through a very tough time and a bad breakup and I was a little messed up. And at that time I needed to find something that was going to give me hope in my life. And Charlie was my hope in the form of a character. ‘Cause I’m sure you guys have experienced in your own lives – You ever, you ever look around and wonder why so many nice people that you know or friends let themselves get treated badly? You know? I wondered that too and Charlie was my response to it and he helped me find a way to not have that happen so often.”

Q. What do you hope to accomplish for the gay community as far as Patrick and Brad’s relationship goes? Like, obviously it’s in the book and it’s in the movie too, and … what are you hoping people get out of that when they see that?”

A. “It depends who you are. Let’s say, I’ll speak about Patrick first and then I’ll talk about their relationship. I have to do it this way.”
“When I was a kid, when I was basically your age, my hero of movies was Ferris Buehler. I thought he was the coolest kid that basically ever was. And when I was making Perks the movie, I wanted Ferris Buehler to be the gay kid. (laughter) Because he never is, you know? And I wanted him to be the most fearless, most confident, funniest, coolest, over-it and the most profound non-victim you’ve ever met. And that’s what I wrote and that’s what we cast in Ezra Miller and he was perfect because I know from my own past, people I’ve known, friends, my travels, all the kids I’ve met at my book readings and school visits and everything else, there’s some gay kids and don’t have a ton of role models and I wanted to give them one. I wanted them to know, for whatever it was worth to them, that if someone calls you a f*ggot, you can hit back and you don’t have to take that sh*t. Oh that’s right, you’re high schoolers – you don’t have to take that stuff.”
“But simultaneous to that, I also wanted to show with Brad how not being true to yourself could be a really difficult life. And I have a lot of sympathy for Brad, that’s why I cast Johhny Simmons in the part because I wanted the audience to have sympathy for him. I also wanted him to serve as a different kind of role model and a bit of a cautionary tale that not being who you are is maybe not the best way to go. That’s basically it.”

Q. You said the movie was more autobiographical for you … than the book … so my question is, what scene in the movie, or even in the book, means the most to you?”

A. “There are two scenes in the movie and the book – well, it’s funny you ask that. There’s one scene in both that mean the most to me and it’s just a dialogue scene and that is right after the Secret Santa party: Sam and Charlie’s first kiss. That’s my favorite scene with dialogue and Emma [Watson] and Logan [Lerman] were fantastic in it. It’s the best scene I’ve ever written in my career and I love that part of the book. Past that, it’s not really a scene so much as a moment: the tunnels. The tunnels to me, I guess you could call it a scene, but it’s more of an expression of where Charlie is and what Charlie feels. And I love the music and I love the imagery and the comradery of the kids. Plus … when Emma Watson stood up in that truck and put her arms up in the air, it was take three of that particular set up and she was just so free and so happy in that moment, I’ll never forget it. I’ll always have a soft spot for that part of the movie because of what I know that moment meant for Emma.”

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Q. How would you compare yourself to Charlie as a teenager? Like what you went through or what his characteristics were?

A.“Well, you know what, Charlie was what I was feeling on the inside when I was in school. Outwardly I was an athlete, I played soccer and I was a pretty friendly guy and I got along OK. But Charlie was more of the secrets I kept and some of the things that were in my mind more than what was outward. The only time I was truly shy was for some reason [in] seventh grade. I could barely function. But past that, in high school I got out of that a little bit and I did better. But what I will say is true to my high school is freshman and sophomore year I played soccer but I didn’t really do anything else past that. I wasn’t very social in terms of clubs and things like that, you know, school papers. I did movie review for my school paper but that was later and then junior year … I suddenly realized all the girls were in musicals, so I tried out for a musical and then I started mixing with the ‘arty’ kids and I don’t know, my life was better after that.”

Q. “I understand the book is pretty similar to the movie, but was there anything, ‘cause obviously you can’t keep everything, was there anything that you really, really wanted to keep in the movie that you had to let go of?”

A. “There were two things that I did script and they made it to the final script when we went into production. I did shoot them. One was a flashback scene with Charlie and his best friend Michael which was a beautiful scene and Owen Campbell played Michael and did a great job. But ultimately that had to go because there was only room for Aunt Helen and anything past Aunt Helen confused matters more than complimented them. And then Charlie’s sister. (SPOILER ALERT. If you have not read the book and plan to do so, please skip on until the next paragraph.) In the book, as you know, she gets pregnant and I did write that and Nina Dobrev did a phenomenal job with it. But what I found is when I had that in the movie, that when we got to the cafeteria fight with Patrick and Brad and we got to the part with Charlie and Patrick, and then saying goodbye to Sam and everything that Charlie goes through – it was just too much. Something had to give and unfortunately because Nina was phenomenal in the scenes, that was the thing. I’ll always mourn that but I’m really glad I shot it and people will see it on the DVD if they’re interested, to see what a great job she did. So it will exist.”

Q. Are all of your characters based off of real people or do you take different characteristics from different people?

A. “I take different characteristics – I’m usually inspired by one idea of someone or you know, the girl that inspired Sam for example, she’s not really like Sam as a character but my passion for her to have a great life was equal to Charlie’s passion for Sam to have a great life. Or her love of music, they shared that. Past that, I’d say, some characters, like I said, Stuart Stern inspired the teacher, a friend of mine from college inspired parts of Patrick and the only character I’d have to say was 100% invention was Mary Elizabeth because I was in San Diego when I was in college, I went to school in L.A. But I went down to San Diego and I saw Rocky Horror floor show and this little, punk girl, I’d say she’s probably 16 , really short and she was dressed all in the outfit and she was yelling at everybody to kinda get in their places. She was like their drill sergeant. I just thought from a distance, you know, ‘I wonder if someday that girl will be 30-years-old or something and she won’t be punk anymore but she’ll still be yelling at everyone in an office somewhere, just running them like a tyrant.’ I wondered if that was true. I actually love Mary Elizabeth. I thought about that person who had that much force of nature and Mary Elizabeth was my response in life because I never even met that girl, I don’t even know her name. So yeah, that was Mary Elizabeth and Mae Whitman was fantastic.”
Q. “What are your plans for the future?”

A. “I’m two-thirds of the way through my next book, I’m really excited about it. It’s my tribute to Stephen King who’s my favorite, favorite writer. Making movies based off of books that I wrote – I love doing it. I loved doing it with Perks and I know I’ll love doing it with my next book. So I think that’s what I’m going to do for a while.”

By: Alexandra Dersch

That’s all for the interview on my blog! If you want to see the whole interview (which is pretty long and VERY interesting) check it out on http://blueprintonline.blogspot.com/2012/09/interview-with-perks-of-being.html

I hope you all enjoyed this! I will hopefully get a review up of Perks in the next few weeks! Have a good week remember to see “Perks of Being of a Wallflower” in theaters now!

-Megan

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2 responses to “Surprise! Interview with Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky

  1. thanks so much for this I saw the movie previews and was so excited and then when I found out it was a book I was even more excited to read it and NOW I’m really getting ready to leave the house and go pick up a copy!

  2. Great insight, thanks for the interview! I loved reading about what inspired Mary Elizabeth; she’s one of my favorites in the book besides the 3 mains. Lovely job!

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